Hidden with Christ
This past week we took a few moments during a staff meeting to share if there were any Scriptures through which God had been speaking to us. It was an encouragement to me to hear what some of our staff have been dwelling on—what God is doing in people’s hearts through his Word. It was also a good encouragement for us to be soaking in Scripture. When we read and meditate on (and even memorize) Scripture, we hear the heart of God. In hearing his heart, we draw closer to him. In drawing closer to him, we become more like him.
I shared with the staff that I had been memorizing Colossians 3:1-4. In the memorizing, I had also been able to meditate on the words as I repeated them. As I memorized each verse—chewing on each part of the passage piece by piece—I was struck by different things. First I considered what it meant to set my mind on things above. What might it mean for me to live my life in such a way that my spiritual and emotional gaze was always upward? Then I settled on verse 3, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” What an interesting phrase, “hidden with Christ in God.” My handy, dandy ESV Study Bible had a note that pointed me to the Psalms, where many times the psalmist speaks of God “hiding” the author in God’s shelter or in a tent (see Psalm 27:5-6 for example). In other words, being hidden means being safe and secure. Thus, the essential, important part of me (my life) is “hidden” with Christ, in God. So when I began to memorize verse 4, it all came together for me. There it says, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, you also will appear with him in glory.” Wow. Who we are, really, is hidden with Christ. Secure, safe, imperturbable, protected, guarded. Then, someday, I will no longer be hidden, but I (we!) will appear with Christ as glorious as he is. Until then, Paul bids that I set my mind on that hope, the “things above.” In the end, my life is not sucked away by my job, or in danger of being harmed by anyone or anything, it is hidden with Christ, in God. Nothing can touch my life in Christ, not really (though it may appear so). This is a great encouragement to me. If you went to Pastor Megan’s Hebrew study she shared my habit of writing a word or phrase from my Scripture meditations on the back of my hand so that I can continue to meditate on it, and my word from this passage became “hidden.” I have that word to take with me to remind me of this hope.
I share this with you because I know for many of us it’s a struggle to even read a little bit of Scripture every day. And when we do read the Scriptures we run into two dangers. Either we read it too cursorily, not allowing it any time or space to soak in, or we study it too mechanically, like a petri dish under a microscope, and distance it from our hearts. During my time in seminary I grew dissatisfied in my own life with these pitfalls. I was hungry for more, so I pursued a discipline of more intense meditation at least once a week. And this discipline has borne fruit for me. My insights above didn’t require a seminary degree, they simply took me being willing and hungry for the Spirit to teach me.
This week, I encourage you to take at least a half an hour and let yourself “soak” in a short passage of Scripture. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to some part of the Bible, and then choose a short passage. Pray a prayer of illumination, asking the Spirit to speak to you through his word. Then get to “chewing” on your passage. Repeat a phrase, study a word, look up some cross-references, memorize the passage… soak it in. See what the Spirit may have for you.
This isn’t the only way to approach God’s word. I read Scripture throughout the week for many reasons: education, enjoyment, exhortation, you name it. I’m a pastor after all, it’s kinda my job. But you’d be surprised how many pastors can go through a week and never let God’s Word speak to their souls. And that’s no way to live, pastor or not. So I encourage you to take the time this week, and every week, to allow the Spirit to speak to you through Scripture.