Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Colossians 2:6-15

Read it here.

Paul continues his letter to the Colossians with some first class advice on Christians living. Anyone wanting to know how to live as a Christian need only look here! Walk in Jesus Christ. Root yourself in Him, build yourself up in Him, just as you were taught. Don't get complacent, don't mix what you were taught by Paul with what people are trying to teach you now. Jesus is it, all we need. So walk in Him follow Him. And how are we meant to do this? Abounding in thanksgiving! Of course! We shouldn't walk in the Lord and complain about it, or worry when things don't go the way we planned. We should walk in Him, knowing that He set His grace upon us because He is gracious, because He chose us, not because of anything we have done. We should walk in the Lord. Not veering off down footpaths that don't take us His way, not going back on Him and walking to where we started...take the narrow path, push forward with the Lord. There is life.
So why does Paul write this to the Colossians? The whole of this letter is glued together by verse eight. Paul is exhorting Christ, Paul is spelling it out again, telling the Colossians not to fall back to their old ways or into false teaching, because of the amount of 'philosophy and empty deceit' in Colossae at the time. This obviously would have been a problem for Christians everywhere in the Hellenic world, but apprantly, particulaly here in Colossae. Paul here also attacks human tradition and elementary spirits, which oppose Christ. This is good stuff. This is relevant stuff. We must, of course be wary of reading this letter as if it is written for us, but i think the point of these few verses is that the only way we can hope to avoid falling away from Christ is to remember who and what He is, to root and build ourselves up in Him, to be ever thankful. And that's as true as we face false teaching and opposition today as it was then. The problems are the same, the answer is the same. The answer is a man, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!
But why? Why is Christ the answer? Paul doesn't leave his readers waiting for Christ, the whole fullness of God dwells (present tense) bodily. Jesus, this man that Paul has been teaching and writing about and espousing as the only defence against false teaching is God! God dwells fully in Him. How can human teaching stand next to God's own teaching? Stop regarding man...what account is he? (Is 2:22). And thats not all, Paul's never going to be one to leave things unsaid. Not only does the fullness of God dwell in Jesus, but we have been filled in Him. So what does that mean. We have been filled in Christ. Well, surely it means that all our desires and wants and wishes and needs are fulfilled in Him. We don't need to try and satisfy our egos or our plans or desires any other way except in Christ. We don't need to look for another way of life, except walking in Jesus Christ the Lord. I just want to stop for a minute and reflect on what an awesome God we have. I mean, God leaves nothing to chance. God is personal, God is powerfully trancendant. God is holy with an all consuming, burning holyness, which is both scary and inspirational. God puts His grace on us because He is gracious. God loves us enough to show us His glory and propitiate our sin...what a God we have! A God that we have been filled in.
In Him we were circumcised. Not in the traditional Jewish way, but in a much, much better way, in a way that means we really belong to Him. We were circumcised with the circumcision of Christ...which is far better. Also as Christ was buried, so were we by our baptism, and raised by our faith in God, as Christ was raised. Verse 12 says we were raised 'with him' by the poweful working of God. As Christ died, all died, and as Christ rose all rose. But what of the circumcision in verse 11? I woke up this morning wishing that i didn't know some of the stuff i know, that i didn't think some of the things i think. That i knew less about the world and how it worked, and that i wasn't so entranced by its corruption. Circumcision by Christ is the only way that will happen. Again, by walking built up and rooted in Him. Circumcision as a mark of God's people in their hearts this time, not just on their bodies. Christ's real, final mark of who His people are, circumcision by a perfect high priest, by a sinless mediator. Circumcision that works. Oh Lord that is would work on me, that your light would blind me to all other lights.
I love the last three verses. Of all of Paul's wisdom, anger and beautiful sarcasm that appear so often in his letters this piece of wisdom, the way he turns the cross on it's head, is one of my favourites. God made us alive in Him by forgiving our us all our trespasses (v13). Just to dwell on that truth for a moment tells us so much. God made us alive, no other, just God. God made us alive. Alive! We're alive, we are truly living, we don't to ponder the mysteries of life, the reason why we're hear, the thousand other things that unbelievers worry about. We are alive. God made us alive in Him. Again, its all about Him. We don't just lead any old life now...we lead to life He saved us for. Having forgiven us all our trespasses. How? How can we possibly be made alive in Christ with all our rebellion against Him? Because the Lord has forgiven us all our trespasses. What i did and will do today, what i'll do tomorrow, what i did years before i knew Christ. All forgiven. We're free from guilt and the power that sin has over us, we've seen the other way, the better way. The way...Jesus Christ. So let's pray that God's kindness will lead us to repentance, (Rom 2:4). It was the legal demands God set aside, enabling Him to forgive us, 'this He nailed to the cross'. It was the demands of the law that was nailed to the cross. Christ, bearing on His Godly, perfect, sinless shoulders, our sin + the demands of the law. So who was put to shame on the cross? Not the man Jesus Christ according to Paul. The cross was a place of triumph for the Lord, not one of shame. The shame belonged to the rulers and authourities who were put to open shame on the cross. Everyone could see them, everyone could see their defeat. Jesus is victor at the cross.
So then, walk in Jesus. Remember not to let the world drag you down. In Colossae people were trying to persuade the believers to worship angels and to observe festivals. Here, it could be any number of human traditions that the world in general, our peers, people that hate the Lord want us to do. Stuff them. The fullness of God dwells bodily in Christ Jesus. That sounds much better to me! The Christ who rescued you from your trespasses, who cancelled the record of debt that stood against us. Lets go out, and by in the world, living in the world, being men and women who are seen, who are known, whilst having nothing to do with it, whilst living for Jesus, whilst walking in Jesus Christ the Lord, rooted and built up in Him, just as you were taught. There is life.

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