The Fulfillment Center
All the buzz was about Amazon.
Shortly before we left Washington last year the online giant was set to put in a warehouse outside Spokane, bringing with it hundreds of jobs and a large investment in the region. What caught my attention, though, was Amazon's euphemism for their embassy: no mere warehouse, this was a "fulfillment center."
There's 175 such buildings throughout North America and Europe. According to Amazon, "The name reflects the function: Amazon fulfillment centers are charged with fulfilling customer orders." Though they don't say so, I can't help but detect an additional meaning in the term: the warehouse not only fulfills orders—it fulfills desires and dreams.
Whether or not Amazon intended such a double meaning (I'll confess my own cynicism on this score), such is the empty promise of our age. Another car, another gadget, another pair of shoes and you will be satisfied. Amazon offers everything from Alexas to zip-ties, but I'd suggest that the principal product on offer is fulfillment.
And with free two-day shipping at that.
Ours is not the first age to seek fulfillment in all the wrong places.
St. Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians because they were being tempted by the unfulfilling promises of their age. “See to it,” he writes, “that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit” (Colossians 2.8). The 1st century Colossians of course weren’t being allured by the appeal of our contemporary consumer culture, but a similar impulse may have lurked beneath what Paul calls the “self-made religion” that was besetting them (2.23).
Throughout this short letter, Paul presents a compelling contrast in Christ to the vanity of the world. “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (1.19). John will echo this sentiment a number of years later when he writes his Gospel: “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1.16).
Jesus, in other words, is the true “fulfillment center” (if you’ll excuse the expression). He is the source of genuine fulness of life. Your possessions cannot provide it. Your job cannot provide it. And not even relationships with family and friends can ultimately provide it. These are good things, you understand; they simply can’t bear the weight of the human heart, any more than a grave can contain the Son of God.
The fullness of life is found only in Christ. He is our true and only fulfillment center.
Over the next four weeks in our Saturday evening services we’ll be exploring Paul’s letter to the Colossians and learning more about this theme in a series entitled The Fullness of Christ. We’ll look at the fullness of knowledge (Col 1.1-14), promise (1.21-29), truth (2.6-19), and life (3.1-11). And my goal for the series is that you would come away more deeply fulfilled in your relationship with Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14.6).
Even if He doesn’t offer free two-day shipping.