Paul worries about the Colossians – they do not know him personally. He is with them in spirit, but not face to face. He is concerned they are deceived by high-sounding, religious jabber that may call them away from our Head, that is, Jesus Christ who is the full embodiment of “the Godhead.” Paul seeks to encourage them to avoid the principles which appear spiritual on the outside and follow after the One who nailed those principles to a Cross. He writes:
“as ye have taken Jesus Christ our Lord, walk ye in him,
7 and be ye rooted and builded above in him [rooted and built above in Christ], and confirmed in the belief, as ye have learned, abounding in him in doing of thankings.
8 See ye that no man deceive you by philosophy and vain fallacy, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth body-like all the fullness of the Godhead.”
Paul calls the Colossians to “abound in Him in doing of thankings” and in so doing, confirm themselves as “in the belief.” They are not to worry over whether they’ve eaten the right thing or celebrated the correct day; rather they are to abound in love, in unity, and in thanksgiving. As Paul writes elsewhere:
“8 The time will come when we shall outgrow prophecy, when speaking with tongues will come to an end, when knowledge will be swept away; we shall never have finished with charity. 9 Our knowledge, our prophecy, are only glimpses of the truth; 10 and these glimpses will be swept away when the time of fulfilment comes. 11 (Just so, when I was a child, I talked like a child, I had the intelligence, the thoughts of a child; since I became a man, I have outgrown childish ways.) 12 At present, we are looking at a confused reflection in a mirror; then, we shall see face to face; now, I have only glimpses of knowledge; then, I shall recognize God as he has recognized me. 13 Meanwhile, faith, hope and charity persist, all three; but the greatest of them all is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13: 8-13, KNOX)
Paul writes to Timothy, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: ‘He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.’ (1 Timothy 3:16) Then Paul warns that some in later times will “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:3) In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes, “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 sensual 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.” (Colossians 2:16-19) The rules and regulations these persons demand of you, says Paul, “have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:23)
“Rather,” writes Paul to Timothy, “train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) “Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
The example Timothy is to set is “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) The godliness he seeks is Christ Himself.
“O Lord, Thou are my God; I exalt Thee and praise Thy Name; for Thou accomplish a wonderful purpose, certain and sure, from of old.”
“[God] makes known His hidden purpose — such is His will and pleasure determined beforehand in Christ — to be put into effect when the time is ripe: namely, that the universe, all in heaven and earth, might be brought into a unity in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:9-10) “Through [Christ] God chooses to reconcile the whole universe to Himself, making peace through the shedding of His blood upon the cross — to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through Him alone.” (Colossians 1:20)
“The Lord is to be trusted, and He fortifies you and guards you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
Jesus says, “Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in Me. There are many dwelling places in My Father’s house; if it were not so I should have told you; for I Am going there on purpose to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I Am you may be also; and My way there is known to you.” (John 14:1-5)
Then, Jesus says: “I Am the way; I Am the truth and I Am life; no one comes to the Father except by Me.” (John 14:6)
“What use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it?” ask James. (James 2: 14) “With faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing.”
The author of Hebrews asks, “And what is faith?” And offers this answer: “Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.” (Hebrews 11: 1)
Abel offers a better sacrifice than Cain by believing God is good. “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]; for anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who search for Him.” (Hebrews 11: 6)
Jesus says that faith as tiny as a mustard-seed is able to “give substance to our hopes.” Our faith is not in our good deeds, but in Christ, “for it is in Christ that the complete being of the Godhead dwells embodied, and in Him [we] are brought to completion.” (Colossians 2: 9)
Our faith is not lifeless, but alive. Though we do not see the realities of which we are certain, our faith does indeed “give substance to our hopes.” And this living faith allows us to act.
(Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 11:42pm)
Paul calls us to “hearten one another, fortify one another — as indeed [we] do.” He continually expects us to “live at peace among [ourselves].” (1 Thessalonians 5: 14) He desires us to “encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, and to be very patient” with all. (1 Thessalonians 5: 14)
He says, “Always aim at doing the best you can for each other and for all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 15)
We are able to comfort one another because Jesus Christ “dies for us so that we, awake or asleep, might live in company with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 10)
“For God has not destined us to the terrors of judgment, but to the full attainment of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 9)
And “He who calls [us] is to be trusted; He will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 24) “In Him, [we] are brought to completion.” (Colossians 2: 10)
As complete children of God, we are able to encourage and strengthen one another because we are encouraged and strengthened by Christ Himself. We stand in His company; and He is our friend. Let us befriend one another, aiming to do our best for all.