Modern marketing campaigns broadcast a continual unspoken message in hopes the world’s watchers will buy: life is empty without ______. (Fill in the blank with whatever calls out to you: this car, that purse, those shoes…).
Commercials, magazines, pinterest, and social media flash images of “the good life” with exotic vacations, dream backyards, good looking families, mouth watering food. All this “flash” stirs up cravings in us for more. We look around and our eyes light up with delight at all that’s out there, until we discover a growing void forming in here.
What we already have quickly becomes not enough.
Maybe if we could camp out at a proverbial All-You-Can-Eat Buffet of life, we’d finally get full. If we could consume more than we can hold, sampling anything that looks good, wouldn’t that fill us up?
Yesterday’s lottery winners would tell you “No.” The reality of their new today did not deliver what they’d expected from their old tomorrows. Time magazine ran an article recently called “Here’s How Winning the Lottery Makes You Miserable.” Evidently being able to have anything you want doesn’t equal lasting satisfaction. It seems it can even breed a deeper emptiness.
The people of ancient Colossae found themselves stuck in an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet of ideas. They’d begun to fold many different traditions and philosophies into their Christian faith. Now they needed clarity, a path of healing, and someone to be honest with them. I think what got them trapped in a smorgasbord of beliefs is that everything looked so appetizing: pagan superstitions, jewish mysticism, devotion to angelic beings. They had fallen into what Biblical scholars call Syncretism (the stirring together of various religious beliefs). If it all sounds so good, why can’t we just pile it up on our plates?
But just like filling up on empty calories can leave our bodies malnourished, filling up on empty philosophies can leave our hearts hollow.
Paul writes to the believers in Colossae a poignant letter to illuminate the Way to finding a fullness that fights the whispers and wanderings of earth’s empty promises.
“For [God} has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” (Col 1:13)
There are good things, and then there are shadows of good things. Unfortunately i’s really not that hard to get mixed up between the two.
The way to soul nourishment isn’t found in impressive philosophies, politics, or products.
Fullness comes from a Person.
“He is the image of the invisible God.” Paul explains. “All things were created by Him and for Him.” (Col 1:15 & 17).
Paul’s answer to sorting through a clutter of counterfeits is to stop looking around at the crowd and find the center of it all: Jesus Christ, The Son of God.
Everything else turns out to be a shadow of the Revelation.
“For God was pleased to have His fullness dwell in Him.” (Col 1:19). The FULLNESS of God (“pleroma” in the original greek) means the COMPLETENESS of God. Jesus is not just “full” of God, He IS the fullness of God. Completely. Wow.
Not only does He have the fullness of God, He gives the fullness of God.
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Col 2:9-10)
If we want to get filled up, deep down inside our aching hearts, where the inner cravings of our souls cry out and the gaping pains of our past hide, we need to know where true fullness really comes from.
It comes from Him.
Only He can complete and fulfill the deepest longings of our souls.
So instead of looking around to find fulfillment, significance, and satisfaction, we look up. Where it’s been all along.
There’s a story in 2 Kings chapter 4 of a widow who was destitute. Her husband, a prophet, had died and there was no money, no resources. A creditor had come to take away her two boys as slaves, payment for what she owed.
Elisha came to visit and asked her “how can I help you?” All she had was a small jar with a little bit of oil left inside. She was empty. “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars.” Elisha said. “Don’t just ask for a few.” (2 Kings 4:3).
So she did what Elisha said. She lined up all these empty, borrowed jars and did as Elisha directed. She poured out from her tiny jar with very little inside, and filled up empty jar after empty jar. The oil just kept flowing. When all the jars were full the oil stopped. “Go and sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons will live on what is left.” Elisha told her.
When it seems like there’s not possibly enough and all you have are a bunch of empty jars lined up around you, the anointing oil from God will not run out. Keep pouring. Jesus is filling.
There’s no shortage of resources in heaven.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:1-3)
As you read this, my friend, may you be filled to the brim with the extravagant love of the Living God. May you feel Him pouring His own heart down deep into yours. And may you hold your heart’s cup up, for Him alone to fill. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.