Thursday, January 19, 2012

Keeping Focus

Imagine this: You have run the race and you have won. You are just about to receive the prize, when a judge comes over, taps you on the shoulder and says, “This does not belong to you — you have been disqualified.” That is the picture Paul paints for us here:
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Colossians 2:18-19)
The believers at Colosse had come to faith in King Jesus the Messiah. They had been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through the faithfulness of God. They were in the “winner’s circle.” But then certain teachers came with elements of Judaism, folk religion and esoteric philosophies and told them that was not enough. That they needed to have special hidden knowledge, certain ascetic practices and unusual revelatory experiences if they were going to know the fullness of God. Otherwise they would not be qualified for the reward.

Paul’s answer to all that was, to paraphrase, “Don’t let them rob you of what it means to be the Church!” These teachers submit themselves to angels, through fasting and acts of self-denial, invoking them for protection from demonic powers. They present themselves as humble but then go about bragging how they have been initiated into the “deeper mysteries” and how they have seen visions. Their egos have been inflated by the kind of thinking that comes from fallen human nature. They are caught up in themselves.
But those are symptoms. The real problem is this: They are not connected to the Head. Imagine a body without a head, still trying to carry on and function — the proverbial “chicken with its head cut off.” That is Paul’s assessment of these false teachers.

They are not connected to the Head of the body. That is, they have no vital relationship with Jesus, who is the head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). They are focused on themselves, their philosophies, their practices, their experiences — but not on Jesus.

Paul’s teaching is that everything we need is found in Jesus the Messiah. Divine fullness does not come from angels or visions or secret knowledge or self-abasements. We already have all the fullness of God in Jesus the Messiah. “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and you are complete in Him” (Colossians 1:9-10). Anything that pulls our focus away from Him robs us of knowing His completeness, and our completeness in Him. He is the head, and it is only in Him that we grow together as His body, with all the life that comes from God.

The Focus of Our Faith
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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