Friday, September 30, 2016

God's Focus - Colossians - Part 12

I love chapter 2 of Colossians. I am humbled by reading it again and again.

"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily," - Colossians 2:8-9 ESV

"Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations..." - Colossians 2:16-20 ESV

Grace is God's mind and Jesus is God's focus. These passages sum up the bad theology taking root in that assembly. Jesus sums up the good theology that God gave them at the establishing of that assembly.

In a way, the writer is counseling in the best possible manner. The fullness of deity and of humanity are in Christ. Everything else is a distraction. Everything else will turn into personal disqualification.

Oh, It sounds good at first. It sounds reasonable on some level but then the demands come. Biblical spirituality is so simple when Jesus is at the center and becomes so complicated when He isn't.

Paul dives deeply into 'positional truth' and brings up pearls from the bottom...

"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses," - Colossians 2:11-13 ESV

Christianity isn't what we are doing outwardly. It is what Christ has done for us and is doing in us using the Gospel.

The writer is in a great struggle for them because one is so different from the other. Behavioral changes are reasonable but worthless in God's economy. Jesus must be the cause and produce the effect or it is all worthless. Other teachers are moving in like wolves and the writer is urging the flock to stay close to the shepherd. The writer is in prison and is forced to use words from far away.

This chapter makes us want to draw near to Jesus. Grace theology is so valuable and so rare. Jesus is unique and nothing can take His place. He never starts making demands or criticizing us. The gate is narrow and we drop things of our own accord because His love motivates us. We want to be with Him and do things with Him because of love.

This letter was written to me... and to you. Jesus is what is needed. Regulations aren't the answer. Jesus is the answer.


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