Reading for Tuesday, Aug 14: Colossians 2
Paul writes these believers to counter a prevailing heresy, some sort of divergent teaching that runs contrary to the true Gospel. This leads Paul to write, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ,” (v8). This thinly veiled attack against the heretics raises our awareness to the precarious nature of our position: we live in a world filled with swirling currents, forces that seek to distract…even destroy us and our faith. Earthly philosophies and perspectives may be an inevitable part of life in the flesh, but we should always be aware of the potential these also hold to work as a counter to faith in Jesus.
Paul’s argument against these heretics centers on life in Christ. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ,” (v9-10). It seems that Paul’s opponents are preaching that these Colossian brothers are “lacking” something in their faith, but Paul is adamant that fullness is found only in Christ. He speaks of our transition from death to life (v13) through the power of the cross (v14). And for Paul, the cross stands as the ultimate testimony to the full power of God in human history. It is at the cross that God declares victory over death and evil: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross,” (v15). Paul uses language consistent with a conquering Roman general, victoriously parading his conquered foes down the streets of Rome.
Because this victory is ours, we should not let anyone look down on us (v16), as apparently the heretics are treating the Colossians. We remember that we have “died with Christ to the basic principles of this world,” (v20). If we have died with Him, then we must also declare our Life with Him, for He is the source of all that lives in us presently.
As we sometimes sing, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.”