Read Colossians 1:15-28.

I became the servant [of the church] according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. (Colossians 1:25-26)

What is your hope? Is it for eternal life? Is it that through Christ’s death and resurrection you may be forgiven, someday to reach heaven, where there will be no more tears, no more assault of sin and death, where there will be rest?

Then your hope doesn’t match Paul’s. Paul’s hope is much richer and more glorious.

Paul’s hope, the hope he was commissioned to proclaim, the hope for which he suffered, the hope hidden throughout the ages and generations and now revealed to his saints, is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

What is this glory? It is Christ in you, transforming you, making you like him. It is life, light, and love. It is the peace that surpasses understanding. It is enlightenment. It is the wound of love. It is the pearl of great price. It is the Holy Spirit. It is participating in the divine nature. It is the glory of God.

This is the hope that inspires you when you wish not just to know about God, but to know God.

This is the the hope drives you when you hope to be in God’s temple, because when you see him face to face, you become like him.

This is a hope, not something you already have. It is a gift, not something you achieve. It is a spring, flowing into a dry land.

What are the hindrances that block the flow of this spring? What comes between you and God? What are the intermediaries that must eventually go?

The first is conscious, intentional sin. God cannot remain in one who chooses to do something he is aware God would not have him do. In fact, this is the bar for salvation.

The second is self-will. The will filled with self has no room for love of God and neighbor. Desire for any created thing blocks the influx of the desires God would give—the Holy Spirit.

Eventually, images must go. Images of God, concepts, statements, theological formulations, books, exercises, methods, meditations, verbal prayer—while they can bring us closer to God, while they may even continue as long as we live, in the end they come between us and Him. They are the difference between reading about someone and meeting that person face to face. God is apprehended not by knowledge or activity but by love.

Experience must also go. God is not a feeling or an emotion or a vision or a rapture. God is love, not a feeling of love.

The final barrier is self. We must die to self and be born in Him. We must be baptized. We must eat His flesh and drink His blood.

Lord, this day and each day, increase our love.


Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin College and the director of ccel.org and hymnary.org.