Let’s start the study by reading Colossians 1:15-29. This passage is too rich in meaning to adequately interpret within a short article. However it does connect remarkably on the topic of manliness. It is manly (not saying it is not womanly) in how Christ in us is God’s mystery revealed (vs.26-27). God’s desire is explicitly expressed here: God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery. God had a plan for how He was going to do that. Here we see Paul’s tenacity for God’s plan. Since the mystery is revealed through “Christ in us,” not simply the textbook version of Jesus, Paul labored, striving with God’s strength to present everyone mature in Christ. We see Paul making the connection between Jesus as Lord and Christ in us.
First we must see Christ as the image of God. As Colossians 1:15 and subsequent verses show, the greatness of Christ is beyond words. That does not mean we should not use God’s word through our language to gain insight. We must, and it will still leave plenty of room to ponder His depth in heaven. Let’s start this point by reading 2Corinthians 4:1-6:
1 Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but commending ourselves to every person’s conscience in God’s sight by an open display of the truth. 3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
If we read it in context, this passage also highlights both points I am focusing on in this article–Jesus as the image and Christ in us. 2Corinthians 3:18, which I’ll get into below, is the verse that ties these points together. It says we behold Jesus with unveiled faces and are transformed into the same image, where that image becomes our identity and all the more magnifies the glory of Christ. This reminds me of where it says, “He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). God’s plan is to radiate His glory exponentially through each disciple.
In order to see the significance further, we see verse 4 indicating the spiritual war (Ephesians 6:12), and how we’re kept from seeing Jesus. We should not take for granted the spiritual phenomenon and how significant it is to see Jesus as Lord! God’s adversary has blinded unbelievers from seeing the glory of Christ. God even allows this because turning to Jesus is the only way to remove the veil over our understanding (2Corinthians 3:16). That is primarily why Colossians 1:15 is a very significant statement: “He is the image of the invisible God.” Jesus said, “The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him” (John 14:21).
Coming to this realization is important to faith, to our worship, which is ultimately seeing (or coming to light of) the glory of Christ. Of course these are not exclusive, but this realization changes our faith because that is where your faith that “Jesus is Lord” begins. It changes your worship in the sense that Jesus takes dominance of all things in your life—He is your life and His life is living through you. Lastly, seeing the glory of the Lord is the difference between a religious person (ie Pharisee) and a disciple. The religious people of Jesus’ day did not take Him seriously. Even His disciples had a hard time; until the veil was removed through the Spirit. At that moment, be it conversion or restoration, the believer’s whole being amplifies the reality that Jesus is Lord! That is the moment when the glory of the Lord appears and shines through each believer. The glory of Christ cannot be underestimated, which is why we cannot miss the awesome Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the mystery He longs to reveal to us!
Secondly, the mystery kept hidden for ages and made known through the saints is Christ living in us. I am absolutely convinced we where we have taught Jesus’ Lordship we have lacked teaching the conviction the second point. How many disciples today would associate “Christ in us” as a very significant part of the gospel? It should be the milk as well as the solid food. I know the New Testament does not lack this teaching. Aside from the passages already indicated, here are some key passages along these lines:
Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren
1Corinthians 11:7 A man, in fact, should not cover his head, because he is God’s image and glory, but woman is man’s glory.
1Corinthians 15:49 And just as we have borne the image of the man made of dust, we will also bear the image of the heavenly man.
2Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.
John 14:23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
In conclusion, according to His powerful word both points are to be taken together. They are like two opposite sides of the same coin. The first point, Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God is so important to come to the faith. So much could be said here, bringing about another discussion. Since Jesus is awesome, the perfect image of God, we stand in awe and exalt Him with all our being with every second of every day. The second point, this image being a radiant image and Jesus Christ living in us, is the continuation of our faith. It is equally important to God and must immediately follow the first point. If we fail to do so we leave the gospel message incomplete. It is not humble to shy away from emphasizing this point. I know this teaching is not lacking in God’s word but I will admit it needs to grow deeper roots in my heart, to the point where I no longer live but Christ lives in me!