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On Emptiness & Fullness

We experience emptiness only to the degree that we have experienced fullness.

Naomi, whose relational cup had been filled with a husband and two sons, felt bereft and empty when she lost all three (thus her temporary name change to Mara meaning bitter).  To the degree that she had been full, she experienced a haunting emptiness.

Those who have been wealthy and file for bankruptcy likely experience more sadness and shock at the emptiness of their account than those who are accustomed to the living paycheck to paycheck, frugally saving.

Those who have feasted most will experience famine more acutely.

In light of this principle, the fullness which was poured into Christ only to be emptied on the Cross is staggering.

In his letter to the Colossian Church, most notably in Colossians 1: 15-20, Paul soars to the heights of Christology.  Here, as in Hebrews 1, Paul paints a glorious theological portrait of the Incarnate Christ, the second person of the Trinity.

I have been slowly trekking through said portrait, but today I was stopped in my tracks in awe.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.  Colossians 1:19. 

Simple sentence. Profound implications.

The Greek word for full is pleroma which literally means filled, completed, abundantly supplied. The image in my mind comes from the Disney movie Aladdin which was a huge  blockbuster hit when I was a child. After Aladdin has accidentally rubbed a magical lamp, the genie attempts to describe his powers and his tight quarters within said lamp. “Phenomenal cosmic powers … Itty bitty living space.”

God was well-pleased (the literal meaning of the Greek word eudokeó translated was pleased) to pour all the fullness of the uncreated, self-existing, all-powerful Triune God into the frame of his Son. I feel like the phrase well-pleased does not do justice to the immense feelings of joy, excitement and anticipation that must have come across the heart of the Father as He prepared His Christ for the height of His divine self-revelation. As a mother, I feel like I have the tiniest taste of such a feeling every Christmas Eve when all the presents and special, unique treasures I have been storing up for my children for months are laid out beneath the Christmas tree and shoved into their stockings, ready to be unwrapped.

God shoved all the fullness of the Trinity into the person of Christ; talk about an itty bitty living space!

After a sweet moment of imaging the Father’s good pleasure at the fullness of God dwelling in Christ, my heart quickly moved to the unimaginable pain of the Father as He emptied His son on the Cross.

After all, Christ was made full that He might be emptied, poured out on our behalf. In another letter to a different church, Paul unpacks the inevitable emptying of the Son which was the desired end for His being made full. In Philippians, we see the emptying of Him who was in very nature with God, yet did not consider equality with God something to be grasped or utilized, but made himself nothing, taking on the very form of a servant (Philippians 2: 5-7).

Kenoo is the Greek word translated as made himself nothing in the above verse. It comes from the root word kenos and literally means to be emptied, to be poured out, to be made valueless.

The heart of the Father knew what He was doing when He was pleased to have the fullness of God dwell in His son. He knew that such fullness would be emptied, poured out on our behalf that we might be filled with His Spirit.

Oh, that we might know His fullness today; that we may live as rich as we are in Him who was emptied on our behalf. Oh, that we might follow His lead, emptying ourselves that others might experience the fullness of the gospel!

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