Colossians 2:8-15: The Fullness of God
July 4, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Then – as now – there are many “philosophies” that purport to show us how to live a successful life. What is the best way to master your bad habits and put your life on a pattern towards success? How do you achieve health and wealth? What is the best way to make friends and influence people? What is the right way, within the more religious realm, to connect with God and gain God’s favor? The world is filled with answers to these kinds of questions. They are written in books, sold on blogs, marketed through media, and constantly seek to gain our attention. Paul here is saying that anything that does not rely on Christ is in the end merely “hollow and deceptive philosophy.” First, let’s look at the situation then and its solution, and then the situation today and its solution.
The situation then is often called “the Colossian heresy.” We’re not sure exactly what was going on but there was some form of false teaching in the Colossian region. These false teachings had religious and philosophic elements in them.
They were ritualistic and legalistic:
“Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath”
They were also “ascetic,” meaning that they had some teaching that related to the idea that denying yourself legitimate pleasures would lead to greater holiness:
“Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind.”
The solution, according to Paul, was to give a greater vision to the Colossians of who Jesus is. This is how he puts it in verses 9 and 10:
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.”
There is fullness in Jesus (you don’t need any other religious rituals or rules) because Jesus has all the fullness of God. We could summarize the situation then, therefore, as false religious teaching that taught that the way to be holy was through the three “r”s: rules and regulations and rituals. The solution to this was to regain a vision of who Jesus is.
What is the situation today? Many people today believe that Christianity is out of date and outmoded and needs to be supplanted by newer forms of spirituality and more modern kinds of regulations. People are looking for the spiritual – because we are spiritual beings – but outside the church they are not always looking to Christianity to provide the answer. What is the solution today? Much as it was in Colossians. To regain and re-communicate a vision of why Jesus is the fullness of God, and therefore in relationship with whom you will experience fullness too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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