“I have become it [the church’s] servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:25-27 NIV)
I included the three verses to give some context to the passage, but the phrase I want to close in on for this article is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” By now we’ve already celebrated the first Sunday of Advent, on which the theme for that Sunday was “hope”. When I think of “hope” in regards to Christmas, one main theme comes to mind.
Living in the age we do, we often take for granted the hope that Christ offers. All of us have grown up in a time where the orthodox church has universally recognized that salvation is found in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, so that’s not something we have to wait on or longingly hope for. The work of Christ is done and it comes to us now by faith in Him.
What we do still hope for, though, is the reality of that finished work on the cross for us. While we’re still here on this earth, we have not fully experienced that work of atonement, that work of clearing us before the Father on that day when we stand before Him. The celebration of Christmas for us is the recognition of a plan of God, put in motion with the incarnation of Christ—His coming to the earth in human form. That event set in motion God’s plan of redemption that had been told about for centuries, but in ways that left the details cloudy at best.
Paul writes in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, 4:13, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” Paul goes on to tell them what to expect when Christ returns, but he does so in order that they may have a greater hope than the rest of the world. We have faith in the promise of God that one day, whether at the end of our days here on earth, or when He returns to rapture the church to heaven, one day we will experience “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.
Christmas marks the celebration of God’s great gift to all who will believe. It marks hope renewed as we look forward to our heavenly home; joy experienced through the forgiveness we enjoy in Christ; peace with God made possible as we take on the righteousness of Christ; and the love that motivated the whole plan of redemption.
May your Christmas celebrations be filled with reflections on what is ours now in Christ, whose earthly birth we celebrate once again this year. Have a blessed Christmas!
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen