Colossians was written when the foundations of the faith were being shaken by diverse interpretations. It affected both belief and practice - the basis and the expression of faith. There was ceremony without commitment, heart; the worship of angels above God; a reductionist approach to the work of Christ on the cross; a reliance on secret knowledge and human wisdom. It was a blend calculated to take the eyes off of God.
To think about ....
What one thing could make your life more fulfilling than it is now?
How would you explain such fulfillment to someone who is "spiritual" but not a Christian?
God calls us to continually reflect over what he is saying to us, both where we individually and where we are as a church. In these verses, Paul begins to develop his arguments against the false teachings within the church which were threatening the faith of the new converts. He identifies several key features of the false teaching and contrasts each one to the character of true faith in Christ: look for these in the passage.
Pause for thought I: All I need is...
- Please read Colossians 2: 6 - 15. What does it mean to receive Christ Jesus as Lord” (vv. 6) What does it mean to you personally?
- How do each of the images rooted, built up, strengthened and overflowing (verse 7), help us understand how we should continue to live in Christ?
- In verse 8 Paul outlines the character of the wrong teaching (heresy) that can draw believers away from the truth. What teaching today might do the same? How do we stand firm in the face of this?
- From verses 9 - 13 describe how we can understand “fullness in Christ.” In what ways could we see and apply this is our everyday lives?
- What does Jesus’ "cancellation of the written code" (verse 14) mean? How can we apply both this and his victory and triumph over powers and authorities, in everyday living (see verse 15)?
You can visit many historic castles that look just like you imagine a castle should look. Bodiam Castle in Sussex is one such: set in valley, surrounded by a moat, approached by a causeway with its towers jutting against the skyline. Today that’s all there is –– the inside is in ruins and the outward appearance flatters to deceive.
A lot of things can be like that. There is plenty of superficial attraction and skin deep blessing but there it stops. Verse 8 reminds us that a faith based on the solid foundation of Christ crucified is the only one which works: we can get tangled up and we can lose sight of the real Jesus and be can all too easily be prisoners of a false (and often narrow) understanding of what it means to be a Christian and to live as a believer.
Pause for thought II: What I need to walk away from is ....
- Please read Colossians 2: 16 - 23. On what basis might we be tempted to judge others (believers or non believers)?
- What does new life really mean for you (see verse 17)? How has this overcome the "shadows?”
- In verses 18 & 19, Paul draws further attention to those who, in the Colossian Church, were causing dissension and factions. What dangers are there in becoming too deeply involved in discussions of particular doctrines or beliefs, as opposed to having and/or exercising faith in Christ?
- What is our status as believers (verse 20)? How can rules and regulations become a barrier and not a release? (verse 20 to 21)
- What things in particular are dangerous for us and which might lead us off the point?
- What effect does our spiritual status have in the way we live?
For further thought
When we grow deep in Christ, we can live tall. Sometimes people think God would prohibit their growth. But they could not be further from the truth. God wants to enable our fruitfulness and he knows it only happens when we are deeply rooted in Christ. Only trees that have strong roots can live large
Verse 7 describes three characteristics of a Christian who is going on with the Lord:
These are the spiritual promises God has given us. But if these are the promises there also come the demands – are we:
- prepared to be rooted
- aiming to be built
- seeking to stand strong
- living to overflow in wonder love and praise to the God who has saved you?