Christ is all!

Yes, this is my arm. And, yes, this is a very real, very permanent tattoo.

Colossians 3:9-11 says, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Paul is here highlighting the behavior that ought to characterize followers of Jesus and the behavior that ought not to characterize followers of Jesus. The point of Colossians 3 seems to be that people ought to be able to tell the difference between believers and non-believers. The life of the Christian is to be distinct from the life of the non-Christian. Followers of Christ are not just adherents to a particular religions; rather, followers of Christ are completely new creations who are progressively being molded into the image of Jesus Christ himself. At the close of this verse, Paul reminds his readers that former racial/ethnic distinctions, social distinctions, cultural distinctions all mean absolutely nothing in God’s economy. Christ is all that matters. My arm now bears this statement, permanently etched into my skin as a testimony (more to myself than to anyone else, though it has already served as a springboard for sharing with others) that Jesus Christ is the only thing that matters. The words are in the Greek of Paul’s original writing to the Colossians, though I have altered the word order slightly. Literally, it could be rendered, “Christ is all things,” in order to emphasize that the second word, “panta,” is plural. It is a reminder to me that the only thing that matters is Christ. Paul was eager to remind many of his readers, not just in the letter to the Colossian church, of the centrality of Christ. First Corinthians 15:3, for example, refers to Paul’s perception of the very heart of the gospel when he says, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” The person and work of Christ on our behalf is the heart of the gospel that cannot be omitted, sidelined, or brushed over. For Paul, (and I think all believers ought to imitate Paul here), to live was Christ (Phil. 1:21). Christ is truly all that matters; we must live in such a way that the world knows that Christ is all to us. He is our treasure, he is the one we cannot stop speaking about, he is the one that dominates our thoughts and our conduct. Indeed, in Colossians 3, Paul commands believers to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2-3). We must “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” and this means that we must work hard to train our minds to bring Christ and his word to bear on everything that comes in our lives (2 Cor. 10:5). This text in 2 Corinthians deals particularly with protecting our minds from being deceived by false teachings, but I think it has a broader application and relates to the thought expressed in Colossians 3. Our minds, naturally, have a tendency to wander and are drawn to vain things, useless things, even harmful things. We must, by the power of the Holy Spirit living in each of us as believers, train our minds to focus on Christ. Even as our minds do wander to think of all kinds of things, we must be quick to bring Christ to bear on whatever comes to our minds. As we are able to do that with our minds, our life becomes more oriented toward Christ and what would be pleasing to him. No more vanity; no more wasting our lives thinking of things that don’t matter at all. Instead, let our minds be intent on worshiping our great High Priest who sits at the right hand of God as our Advocate, ever and always interceding for us as we continue to struggle with sin in this life (see 1 John 2:1-2).

So, I have a tattoo to remind me of what is important. Some may thing this foolish or childish or some other negative -ish word. However, I am quite pleased with it as a permanent reminder of the gospel which has permanently changed my life and continues to change my life. Even more irrevocable than the marks of this tattoo on my body are the irrevocable affects that Jesus Christ has on my life every day. To him be all glory!

Published in: on May 11, 2008 at 6:56 am  Leave a Comment