Month: April 2018
The letter to these believers in Colossae (and now to you and I) is about to take a turn towards exhortations on how we should live out our response to the risen LORD Jesus. In these verses 3:1-4 the apostle is changing gear as it were, setting up what he is about to exhort us to do, the godly practical life instruction he is about to give…
But before any life instructions are given, Paul calls us to look upwards again, to consider our great and glorious Jesus again.
May Jesus fill my vision, fill your vision. May who He is and what He has done for us captivate us and motivate us to live our lives in a life response that is fully pleasing to Him and is worship to Him (Colossians 1:10).
What is happening or has happened in your life that is filling your vision, your thoughts?
What can you do practically today to fix your eyes again on Jesus, to look up and not down, to worship not worry?
In all the imperatives to godly living that are about to follow in the letter, need something IF they are avoid just becoming like the rule-keeping rituals & regulations of the false teachers that Paul has warned us of in Chapter 2.
You see it is not just what we do, but why we do what we do that matters!
The motivation behind all the instructions for godly living needs to be our love for Jesus. Otherwise these things will become just another religious list like that of the false teachers.
But when we continually contemplate, meditate on Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, then we are filled with the desire to please Him and when we are filled with the desire to please Him with all of our lives then moral instruction like we have in this letter will not shut down the life of God in us but will stimulate & instruct us on how to live in a manner that is fully pleasing to God – the very thing we want to do.
So, set your mind on Jesus, worship Jesus, love Him more and more and you will want to live the life He wants you to live.
Religion is both hard work and useless! False teachers had come into the community of believers in Colossae and were spreading false teachings that seemingly urged the believers to live an ascetic life, to give up all sorts of God-given pleasures or joyful things. Their teachings came with rules about special days and ceremonies and rules and regulations that were essential for spiritual growth according to them.
But the Gospel is good news not good advice! Advice requires you to DO something to achieve something, news is hearing about something that has been DONE already. The Christian life is not about list of things we must DO (observing special rules and rites and filling our calendars with special days and traditions…) so as to please God. No the gospel is the good news that God is pleased with us already not because of anything we did but because of what Jesus has DONE for us!
So hold on to Jesus (vs19)! Don’t let anyone who has been taken in by false religious teachings rob you of your joy in Jesus or your freedom in Jesus.
After all, false religion is both hard work and just plain useless! It can appear so intensely spiritual (such people are always so intense) but in fact it’s nothing of the sort. False religion’s foundation is not Jesus but rather self-righteous, prideful, worldly thinking (20-22). Religion and legalistic rule-keeping don’t have any ability to produce true godliness in us or to restrain our sinful desires, such thinking doesn’t bring any freedom or produce any spiritual growth (vs23).
Only trusting in Jesus, responding to the glorious good news of what He has DONE for us at a heart level, only loving Him back and letting His love for us melt our hearts so that our desires change from the inside out, only that will produce true spirituality and godliness.
For sure, the Christ follower’s life does get totally transformed, everything changes as we shall see in the rest of Colossians, but it’s so important to not slip into religious thinking, to not get taken in by false teachings that have the appearance of spirituality but in fact in the end do not help us at all to worship Jesus more fully and live the rest of our lives as a worshipful response.
So don’t let anyone tell you, now that you’re a Christ follower you HAVE to do this or that!
If you’re truly a Christ follower and you’ve seen what He has done you’ll WANT to make changes in your life, you’ll WANT to press in to Jesus and so you’ll do all sorts of things, but you’ll do them from a place of worshipful joy and not duty, you’ll do them because you’ve been accepted and loved by God not hoping that your activity will earn God’s acceptance and love.
Although I am a devoted Christ Follower, I am not a good person in and of myself! There are plenty of people who are more loving, more generous, more patient , more kind — than I am sadly. There are far too many times when I don’t like who I have become in this scenario or that one, when I’m provoked or prodded.
But then a passage like this one reminds me, that I was hopeless without Christ. I was more than hopeless, I was DEAD, living breathing but spiritually DEAD before I came to the point of trusting in Jesus and asking Him to be my LORD and Saviour (vs13).
Sometimes we look at people and think they’re ok, they’re not that bad really. But Scripture never allows for that false perspective – outside of Jesus we are all DEAD in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1 & Colossians 2:13), without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12), not one of us is righteous enough (Romans 3:9-12), everyone of us is morally corrupt and bankrupt (Romans 3:23). I was, we were or still are in a bad situation…
But God. “God made us alive together with Him” (vs13)! God forgave us all of our many sins, God cancelled the long list of all my, all our wrongs against Him and against others (vs13). What good news this is for a person like me, like you. God set aside our sin, by nailing it to the cross when God nailed Jesus to the cross, so that Jesus could pay the punishment for our sin (Romans 6:23) so that we could be ransomed, set free from the consequences of our sin.
And so now, I am free from sin’s consequences and I am free to love and obey and follow God, I am not under the control of sin or the devil anymore (like I once was – see Romans 6:15-23) but am under the loving command and control of Jesus Christ my LORD.
I still mess up, but praise God I am forgiven and I am able to continually keep becoming more and more like my LORD and Saviour Jesus, keep becoming more loving, more kind, more generous and patient…
But only because I have been ‘made alive together in Him’ (vs13) and because of that I have the life and the light of Jesus in my life which keeps having the effect of transforming me daily. Thank you Jesus!
As believers we need to be on our guard, careful not to be distracted or distorted by every wind of teaching that blows through town, or the internet or social media…
We as believers need to ensure we aren’t gullible, aren’t easily impressed, impacted or taken along with teachings or ideas that have their basis in the empty thinking of our age. Such philosophies can sound so persuasive (certain issues pertaining to gender, sexuality, freedom, life’s purpose…), so clever, but in the end they are devoid of God’s eternal truth as they don’t line up with Scripture and they aren’t centred around the biblical revelation of Jesus Christ and the Gospel!
We on the other hand are to look to, to focus on the man Jesus, the One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form. Focusing on Jesus, trusting His ways for our lives regardless of whether such ways seem popular or are even despised by our popular culture has a resultant effect. Our lives become filled to the brim – no lack at all. Jesus + nothing is what you and I need. There is no lack in Him and there will be no lack in us as we look to Him and trust Him and His ways as revealed in Scripture for ALL of life.
So, is there anything? Any worldly thinking that’s actually at odds with the revealed will of God in Scripture, with which you might have been taken captive or allured by? Ask God to reveal anything like that, that’s in play in your life or your thinking… And if God shows you anything I urge you to repent of such empty thinking that has its foundation in the emptiness of the world’s thinking and choose now to place Scripture over all other philosophies and to fix your eyes on Jesus + nothing.
Colossians 2:6–7 (NLT): 6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Faith in Jesus is more like a journey than an event. There is a day when we cross the line of faith, we put our trust in Jesus and so we receive Christ Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
The ESV at this point says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…” Before the day we put our faith in Jesus we are journeying towards faith in Jesus, but after that day we are journeying with Jesus.
The day of our salvation therefore is not the end. It’s the end of one chapter but it’s only the beginning of our journey following Jesus for the rest of our lives!
So I urge you to follow Jesus, to keep walking with Him every day, asking Him for His direction and guidance in every situation you face, looking for Him, listening to Him…
Verse 7 in the NLT urges us saying; ‘let your roots go down into Him, let your lives be built on Him’. What a lovely word picture!
A person who’s roots are firmly secured, embedded in Jesus. Roots provide stability to withstand the storms of life, they also provide nourishment for the life of tree and make leaves, fruit & flowers possible. A person who is continuously following Jesus and letting their life roots go down into Jesus will be a person who is secure and stable, a person with evident health and fruit in their lives. Who doesn’t want that?
Take some time now to think about what this could look like practically – to let your roots go down into Jesus. How can you ensure that the roots of your life are firmly in Jesus? What life rhythms will help this to be a reality for your life?
As people we are inquisitive by nature. You can see this clearly in children, the desire to know, to understand propels learning and growth. Many people love riddles, or stories with plots that unfold, mysteries that need resolving, that draw us in as they press on our desire to know more.
This passage describes Jesus as the mystery of God! The God of the Bible is so much bigger, more loving, more magnificent, holy, wrathful against sin, just, holy, righteous, powerful, gracious…. than we could ever imagine. What we know of God, just reveals how little we truly know of God. What we know of God simultaneously satisfies us and stirs up within us an insatiable desire, an inquisitiveness wanting to know more of our glorious God.
Here in Colossians 2:2-3 Jesus is described both as ‘God’s mystery’ and as the One in whom are hidden ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’. What an intoxicating combination. If we want to pursue the mystery of God, then we need to focus on Jesus, and Scripture here confirms that as we pursue relationship with Jesus, we will find that Jesus is the One in whom ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found.
Friend, Jesus is the answer to every problem, every need. Jesus is the only One who can truly satisfy our souls, Jesus contains the wisdom we need for life and for godliness, for parenting, for our career choices and our relationships… Jesus deserves not only all our worship but all our reflection, all our attention and as we focus our lives on Him, we discover more and more about God, who He is and what He is like, we discover treasures that will thrill our hearts and satisfy our souls and we discover wisdom and knowledge for life.
Oh may we make Jesus our vision and our pursuit.