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Colossians 2:2-3

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In Colossians 2:2-3, Paul seeks for the Colossians to be “united in love, even unto all the riches of full assurance of understanding, unto the knowledge of the mystery of God, [which is] Christ, in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.”


Paul labors for the Colossians to be united to one another in love, *so that* they might possess the full riches of understanding, which is knowledge of Jesus Christ. The implication here is that love is the context in which true knowledge grows.

The union of love among the Colossian believers is unto the knowledge of God’s mystery, who is Jesus Christ. The mystery of God, the treasure house of all wisdom and knowledge, the peaceful riches of true understanding—all of which is summarized in knowing the crucified, risen, and universally reigning Jesus Christ—cannot be attained apart from dwelling in the midst of a community in which each members seeks to love one another…(Calvary-defined) Love and love alone is the soil in which the plant of the knowledge of Christ grows.

Would I enter into the mystery of God? Would I receive the treasure house of wisdom and knowledge? Would I find rest in the assurance of understanding? Would I know Christ? Then let me be united in love with other believers.

Why this correlation? Is it, perhaps, an expression of the classical maxim that like knows like? If one is to grow in true knowledge of Jesus Christ, the posture of one’s soul must be harmoniously related to Jesus Christ, and if the shape of His identity is—as defined on Calvary—the shape of self-giving love, then it would follow that only the soul formed by self-giving love is able to know Him….Of course, this is a reciprocal process since there is no Christ-imaging love in our souls until we have seen Him….but the point, I think, remains….if I am to grow up into the knowledge of the One who is defined in the supreme act of love, then I too must be increasingly defined by that same love…

Love, then, is the attuning of the instrumentation of my soul to the frequency of Christ, such that I might more clearly and fully receive Him into myself….it is the aligning of the container of my understanding to the waterfall of Himself, such that I might more readily receive His cascading fullness into myself….it is the turning of my telescope toward the star and the fine tuning of its lenses for maximum light reception….To love as He has loved is to posture my soul to more fully and truly know the One who is revealed in and given through and articulated in this love.

So, in this picture, the union of the community is pictured by the saints in a cruciform posture, united to one another by hands that bear Christ’s own wounds of love (a union that could not be apart from the Spirit of unity, whose presence is implied in the bonds of the saints). Their whirling dance of love for one another form concentric rings around the center—Christ. In this way, they visually echo Gustave Dore’s depiction of the Beatific Vision from Paradiso, communicating the idea that we receive the Beatific Vision of knowledge of God in Christ precisely as we are united in love for one another.

Christ Himself is depicted at the center of the image and in the center of the sun, orbited by the other 6 classical planets. This images not only His cosmic centrality (which true knowledge of Christ must recognize), but also—by linking Him to the sun—it underlines that He is the fullness of all wisdom and knowledge. Finally, though presented in a cruciform posture—emphasizing the love by which He is revealed and his people are united—Christ is illumined by the sun as it rises from behind the moon, visually echoing the stone that roles away from the mouth of the tomb and the resurrection by which we rightly perceive the crucified one as the risen Lord.