Colossians 1:26–27 (Phillips)
For I am a minister of the Church by divine commission, a commission granted to me for your benefit and for a special purpose: that I might fully declare God’s word—that sacred mystery which up to now has been hidden in every age and every generation, but which is now as clear as daylight to those who love God. They are those to whom God has planned to give a vision of the full wonder and splendour of his secret plan for the sons of men. And the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come.
“Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead . . .
Your turn: “And Christ will shine on you!”
I had the blessing of getting to spend a good number of years under the mentorship and now in friendship with Maxie Dunnam. At that point in my life I had never met a leader in the church as bonafide a real Christian as Maxie was. It was a privilege to be part of publishing his memoir, God Outwitted Me: The Stories of My Life.
As I was nearing the end of seminary, (where he was the president), I asked Maxie if he would inscribe a charge in the back of my Bible. He happily agreed. The first line captures me every time I read it. It says,
“John David, always keep the gift of the Holy Spirit stirred up within you.”
One morning I let myself in through the back door of his home. He didn’t answer my greeting. I proceeded through the house looking for him. I could hear his distinctive voice speaking with some force. As I came upon him, he was rehearsing today’s text aloud. He saw me and beckoned me into the room. I asked him about what I was hearing. He said for many years he had a daily practice of rehearsing aloud Colossians 1:27 from the J. B. Phillips translation of the Bible. I asked him if he would repeat it for me. He obliged:
“Maxie, the secret is simply this, Christ in you, yes Christ in you, bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come.”
Not only did it impact me, it imprinted on me. In those days, I added this practice to my own daily exercises. All the discussion on actuation reminded me of this and I am prodded to bring this practice back to the fore in my life.
“John David, the secret is simply this, Christ in you, yes Christ in you, bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come.”
It strikes me now how this is a way of always keeping the gift of the Holy Spirit stirred up within me. It is a way of actuation. Actuation really just means actualization, which I tend to shy away from owing to its deep association with the whole notion of self-actualization; which on the face runs counter to the calling of Jesus to die to oneself. I suppose it all comes down to which self we are talking about—the old self or the new self. I suppose self-actualization could work if we are talking about the new self or the New Creation, also known as the life hid with Christ in God. After all Paul rarely minced words. He later said the following in the same letter:
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
All of this to say the primary work of the Holy Spirit is the actuation or actualization or realization of the New Self. Yes—realization—as in “Do you realize that Christ Jesus lives in you?” Actuation means the actualization of Jesus Christ in you. This is a journey of transformation, as the text says, from one degree of glory to another.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
That’s where this Daily Text–Wake-Up Call bus is headed next. We are going to lift up 2 Corinthians 3:18 like a banner over us and then jump into the boat and head toward the deep end with Jesus where we will learn more about beholding him and befriending him and becoming transformed into his image by the Holy Spirit.
In the meantime, I charge you, friend, to always keep the gift of the Holy Spirit stirred up within you.
Start by practicing this affirmation of actuation:
(Insert your name) the secret is simply this: Christ in you, yes Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come.
Still day one.
Father, I want to thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who awakens me every day and invites me into the actualizing journey of who I was made to become. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who causes me to realize that Jesus Christ is in me and bringing with him so much goodness. Lead us further into the depths of glory from one degree to the next. Thank you that this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Praying in Jesus’ name, amen.
What is the Holy Spirit teaching you through these days we have journeyed together through the Word of God? What do you yet long to learn?
For the Awakening,