Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
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, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossian 2:6-10
Been on a trip lately? Where did you go? What did you take? Bonnie and I were at a small reception Friday evening for the MS Society staff. A group of us were sitting around the table and somehow the discussion got to how we pack for a trip. Some people pack extremely light, some fairly heavy. A doctor who travels frequently has a small carry-on and only takes 5 or 6 pieces of clothes that she can mix and match to get 28 different combinations. One lady who used to travel a lot said she missed the simplicity of being on the road – you only had a few limited options for clothes, so it was easy to choose what to wear.
Travelling isn’t just about what you take – it is also about the destination. The destination determines a lot of things, especially how you will get there. Taking a bus to Cuba is not recommended. In fact, when people go on a trip, the smart ones do planning. All the potential troubles are headed off by being prepared. Planning takes a lot of the stress of travelling away.
In our passage today, Paul is talking about traveling. He is equating our life with being on a journey, and how important it is to walk with Jesus rather than alone. When we walk with Jesus we are going where He is going, but if we walk alone you can be sure that it is a different direction. And when you walk with Jesus, you can be sure that He will always be with you. We talked about the Oak Island money pit last week, how there were many investors, but they would invariably lose faith in the project and bail. I am here to tell you that Jesus will never lose faith in you – He will not bail on you – ever. In fact, this is where Paul opens our passage in Colossians 2.
Walk in Him: As you are saved, so shall you live! Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him… Paul says walk on with Christ. You started the journey with Him, now keep on the same way – don’t change directions now that you have started.
When is a person saved? I believe the heart of salvation is when a person recognizes they can’t do life on their own, they can’t do anything about the sin question – and so they look to Jesus, to God for the answer. There is a surrender of self, an admission of being incapable of doing life in our own strength. Often that surrender is not complete, in part because we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know just how much of a sinner we are. We don’t know just how many filters we have on our thinking, on our perceptions and opinions. We just don’t know how far we actually were from God, from holiness. So we get saved and begin to walk forward in our new spirituality and we come to believe that we’re done; that we are mostly holy, only the little bits left to go. So we begin to create a standard that we think is holiness, but that is more often than not something made in our own image rather than the image of God. And we have changed directions – the Son is no longer shining on our face leading us on. We turn our back to Him and start going on our own way. Paul says, “Stop!” You were saved by faith, just keep living by faith. We were saved by God’s power, keep on living by God’s power rather than turning back to your own strength and wisdom.
Rooted and built up in Him: Move from knowledge to experience. …so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught… This journey we are on is about living, about doing. There was a show on Oasis TV called Coastlines from above. They would take you on a helicopter tour of the coastlines of England, and France and Spain… gorgeous scenery. When you watch it on HD, it is spectacular, but how do you think it would look to actually be in the helicopter? Paul is encouraging us to move off of the couch and get in the helicopter. The Message says it like this: “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it!” I like that. Sometimes we get a bit too caught up in the “right way” to do things. My experience is that God uses whatever you have to offer. I love creating ideas. I love organizing things by the “big picture”, to see how they relate and interact with one another. Philosophers and theologians love to talk in ideas as well. Ultimately, though, if those ideas don’t translate into action, they are nothing but unfulfilled dreams. So how do we translate who we are in Christ to how we live? Paul gives us one way to do it in this passage.
Thanksgiving: What do we focus on? …abounding in thanksgiving. Is the glass half empty or half full? Do you look at what you have or what you don’t have? If God is who He says He is, if His promises of presences and everlasting love are true, then your glass will always be half full. God has got your back. He is in control, nothing takes Him by surprise, and He is intimately involved in your life. He is with you in the victories and the celebrations. He is just as near in the defeats and the grieving. On the journey of life He is always there right beside you. If you truly come to not just believe those truths, but to live those truths, one outcome will be your gratefulness. You will not be able to help yourself, for all the richest treasures of wisdom and understanding are in Christ, and Christ is in you. You realize that your small perspective, your life, is part of a much bigger picture, and that God is using you in the kingdom in ways you can’t see or understand. The sickness you experience allows an unbeliever to experience God’s grace. The persecution you suffer is a doorway for another to meet Jesus for the first time. The faithfulness of perseverance in the midst of tight finances or long term heartache is a testimony to the power of the Gospel. The transformation of your character into Christ’s character is a miraculous evidence of the reality of God. If you are with God on the journey, you will be a person of thanksgiving, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer.
Avoid captivity: Test the spirits. Do you think Satan wants you to be walking with Jesus, to be thanksgiving, to be rooted in Christ? No. He is going to send distractions, even infomercials. He wants you to take your focus off of Jesus and to wander off the path you are on. He wants to tickle your ears with something that sounds right, but is empty at best, spiritual poison and death at the worst. Paul uses the language of the cults of Colossae to tell his readers that they need to focus. This stuff about angels, about conspiracy theories, about secrets is all blah blah blah in the fact of Christ. For in him (Christ) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. Any time you allow yourself to go down the road of special revelation, of secret initiation, of anything other than the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings, you are in danger of getting lost. Don’t get caught up in that stuff. Focus on Christ, keep your eyes on Him, and keep on the path.
Use this token you are given to remind yourself to keep on the path with Jesus.