As we grow up, we have to learn to process and discern multiple different sources of advice and wisdom for life. When we’re quite young, it’s 100% parents or guardians. As we grow up, we broaden our sources to include friends, teachers, coaches, and more. Many times, we learn conflicting things about the best way to live.
This is similar to what the Colossian church was facing, which Paul gets into detail about in the latter half of chapter 2.
A lot of the advice they’re being given appears wise. (Doesn’t it always, in the moment?) But Paul has a perspective that isn’t subject to the same kinds of pressure. And from that perspective, Paul reminds the Colossians of this paradox: the kingdom of God has already come, but is not yet fulfilled. Now, he doesn’t say it in that exact way. But Paul’s audience has had a thorough and fruit-bearing experience of Christ already. But they are not yet fully mature. It appears that Christ guaranteed God’s kingdom, but it is being worked out in our world over time.
What does this mean for us? First, the “already” means we can live in freedom from otherwise empty religious obligations that only foreshadow that which Christ fulfills. We can live in freedom from the judgmental eyes of those who are puffed up with what they claim are special spiritual insights. Second, the “not yet” means we are called to remain connected to Christ, the “head” by which the whole body grows. This connection has a twofold purpose: to grow and mature us, and to be examples of God’s kingdom to the world.
- Looking back on your life, did you ever do anything that you now realize was unnecessary? Why did you do it? (If you heard my sermon, think “enormous gym bag.”)
- Is there anything you do now that is based more on fear-filled duty than on joy-filled living? What are you afraid of?
- If you lived out God’s “already” kingdom, how would it affect your daily life?
- If God’s kingdom is also “not yet” fulfilled, what role might you play in its unfolding in our world?