My family and I were in Washington D.C. the week before Independence Day, doing as many of the “tourist” things we could: the White House, the US Capitol building, the National Archives, and so many museums, monuments, and memorials. Most of what we saw had something in common — the IDEA OF FREEDOM. Having achieved freedom from the British monarchy, can you imagine how our country’s founders would have felt if the new U.S. citizens continued to pay royal taxes anyway?
The Colossian church had experienced an unprecedented freedom in Christ: “God made you alive with Christ” (2:13). But some new ideas (now often called “the Colossian heresy”) have permeated the congregation that are threatening their newfound freedom with “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (v.8).
What makes these ideas hollow and deceptive? Essentially, they are promising a greater spiritual fulfillment than what Christ alone offers. But they find their origins in “human tradition” and “principles of the world.” Human tradition and worldly principles needn’t all be categorized as wrong or bad, but the fact is that they are not absolute. That which is not absolute cannot offer something absolute.
The fullness of life which God freely offers in Christ is an absolute promise, which the Colossians had already experienced, and which God, the Creator and Source of life, is powerful to fulfill. So there is no need to augment it with legalistic religious practices, intellectual gymnastics, or ecstatic experiences. As the song proclaims: “Christ is enough for me; everything I need is in You.”
It’s not always easy to remember this, which is why Paul urges us to “continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him” (2:6-7).
- What ideas are “out there” that suggest Christ isn’t enough for a full life?
- Do you ever struggle against the temptation to “add” things to your spiritual life, as though Christ were not sufficient?
- “Rooted in him”: Try reading the Bible or praying with the posture of listening for God, intentionally asking God to speak to you.
- “Built up in him”: Jesus triumphed over the world humbly, on the cross. Try being a humble servant to someone extra this week, or giving some extra time and energy to your community.