The Biblical basis of Christfulness
The English term Christfulness consists of two words, Christ and Fullness. Fullness is a quality or state of being full (Webster), and can be understood as saturation and completeness, abundance and richness, wholeness. CFN thus can be described as being filled or saturated by Christ, surrounded by and drenched in Him.
The term Christfulness thus is a construct, but its content comes from the New Testament that speaks of the fullness of Christ / τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χριστοῦ (to pleroma tou Christou) or God’s fullness revealed in him. The relevant passages are quoted below followed by short expositions.
Codex Vaticanus: the end of Luke’s gospel and opening of John’s gospel.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
These verses are taken from the Prologue of John’s gospel. The prologue is an interpretation of the creation narrative in Genesis 1. John states that God’s Logos (Word/Dao) was with God from before the world was created, and not only that, but the Logos was also God. It is through the agency of the Logos that God creates the world. John agrees with the Nicene Creed, Jesus Christ is “the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father; by whom all things were made:” The Logos reveals God in creating the world and in upholding creation; he reveals that God is grace and truth. All that God is, is revealed in the Son of God, so that it may be seen in nature because the Logos has imprinted its image in creation in such a way that humans may follow the Dao and live in accordance with it. And yet humans due to sin do not realize it. “He came to his own, but his own did not accept him” (John 1,11); we loved darkness more than light, lie more than truth. For this reason, the Logos had to become a human being to reveal God’s fullness of grace and truth where the attention of humankind was bound. Christ shares his fullness, which is God’s fullness, with us, so that we may live in the Light and have everlasting life in Christ, grace upon grace.
For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.
Paul in the book of Colossians also speak of Christ’s fullness as a revelation of God. The first statement is that God willed all fullness to be found in Christ. This statement is found in what probably is an early Christian hymn that Paul quotes. The first part of the hymn states that Christ is the image of the unseen God (1:15) and it speaks of creation. Christ is as in John’s prologue preexistent as God’s agent in creating the world, and everything is created through him and for him and is kept together in him (1:16-17). As the one revealing God in creation, he is also the head of the Church that is his body (1:18). The second part of the hymn deals with Christ as God’s agent of salvation, as God’s fullness is found in him so that everything whether in heaven or earth should be reconciled to God through Christ “by making peace through his death on the cross” (1:20).
The second statement 2:9-10 explains this further saying God’s fullness, i.e., all that God is, dwells in bodily form in Jesus Christ. The revelation of who God is as God is for us is fully transmitted to us through the human life of Jesus; he is the incarnate God. When God’s fullness is revealed to us, we are made complete; we find our original nature in our faith-relationship with him. Being made whole is not only an individual experience but is part and parcel of being a member the Christian fellowship of Jesus’ disciples. He who is the head of all, even all rule and authority in the cosmos, he is the head of the Church that is his body of which we are the members.
And He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
… until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
In Ephesians 1 we are told that the final goal of God’s creative work and plan for salvation is to unite all things in heaven and earth under Christ as the head of creation. This is experienced in the Church as Christ’s body. The Church is the place where we receive God’s fullness of excellence and power as it incessantly fills Christ who in his turn shares it with the believing community.
Ephesians 3 is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Church. Christ reveals God’s love to the believers, and to know God’s love in Christ is to be filled up with all the fullness of God. This love transforms the faithful through the indwelling of Christ in their hearts through the Holy Spirit. The fullness of God’s love is experienced in Christ as his love extends wide and long and high and deep as were it an all-encompassing cross. God’s fullness in Christ is thus excellence, power, AND love.
In Ephesians 4 Paul describes how apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, and shepherds serve the faithful to build op the community. The goal is unity in faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ as God’s Son so that the fellowship is as one person. This is presented as a growth into maturity, and the measure of this maturity is Christfulness, i.e., the fullness of Christ / τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χριστοῦ (to pleroma tou Christou). Christfulness is the goal of Christian growth and it means living in accordance with the fullness of God’s excellence, power, and love as revealed to us in Christ. Christfulness-living is using the spiritual gifts for the common good and the upbuilding of the congregation (4:1-16), and it is exchanging the old sinful habits with a holy life in humility, truthfulness, and gentleness (4:17-32). Christfulness-living consist of relations of love and not of desire; it is accountability and transparency (5:1-6). Christfulness-living is being led by the Holy Spirit so that relationship between Christ and the faithful is recognized in the relationship of husband and wife, of parents and children, and of masters and servants or slaves (5:15-6:9). Finally, Christfulness-living is a victorious life vis a vis the Devil and the evil powers (6:10-20).
On the backdrop of these biblical texts Christfulness should be presented as a Christian worldview and view of human nature, but also as a way of personal growth. Thus, Christfulness is relevant in describing the goal of Christian spiritualty or practice of our faith, e.g., prayer, meditation, worship, diakonia, soul care and spiritual direction.