Category Archives: Colossians

Second Chance: Colossians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ…17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 

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A mystery can be as simple as a jigsaw puzzle or as complicated as finding the next piece of faith that begins to help you see the image of Christ in youself.  

Our life of faith is the mystery.  Piecing together that life is the puzzle. The Bible is the box.  The many pieces of the Scripture are what fill the box.  Inside that box are a jumble of puzzle pieces of irregular shapes, sizes, color and design but every one is a necessary part to complete the puzzle.  FYI: No one ever solves a jigsaw puzzle by leaving all the pieces in the box and pulling them out one at a time. 

Paul has given us a big table in his New Testament writings to pour out the whole contents of the box on and begin solving the puzzle.  Paul’s secret that brings life to the puzzle and solves the mystery of our faith is the top of the box, the completed image so we “may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.”

The Firsts: Colossians 1 – Sacramental Personality

📌 NIV 9…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…
📌 NLT 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.
📌 NLT 28…perfect [or mature] in [your] relationship to Christ.  

It’s interesting that Paul’s long ago words are prayers of encouragement from an old friend I’ve never even met.  There’s another complete stranger who’s become a friend over the years too: Oswald Chambers.  His book My Utmost for His Highest has been a meaningful companion to my life of faith for almost 40 years now.  That’s pretty notable considering it’s “just” a 365-day devotional.  It’s online, free and most importantly a searchable resource.  [https://utmost.org]

Here are two perspectives from Chamber’s writing on Colossians 1 that directed my own thoughts.
📌 [9/30] sacramental personality.
📌 [11/9] If we preach the effects of Redemption in human life instead of the revelation regarding Jesus, the result in those who listen is not new birth, but refined spiritual culture

Jesus is our redemption. Our salvation is the revelation of him and that changes our heart and mind about many things. In my own experience as dramatic as that revelation is it doesn’t automatically change the habits of personality.  I think what Oswald Chambers calls sacramental personality is exactly what Paul is addressing here. Sacramental personality is letting the transformation of that revelation to your heart and mind reveal itself in your personality too.  That’s why Paul prays for “God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”

Sacramental personality is our post-redemption challenge. It’s pretty easy to get comfortable with the assurance of your salvation and end up finding you’re only part of the “refined spiritual culture.”  It’s very easy to excuse personality issues as “it’s just the way I am.” Jesus has done his part, he’s changed your heart and mind. You now belong to him but your personality is where you begin to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” That’s why Paul reminds us “we also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need” to be ”perfect [or mature] in [your] relationship to Christ.

In Christ

My approach to reading the Bible has been the same for a long time now.  I read and write about small portions of a chapter, often just a couple of verses.   I know  God is trying to speak to me and sometimes it’s just easier to narrow my focus in that way so I can hear better.  I really had no good explanation of why that method works so well for me until I found this quote attributed to Jean-Pierre de Caussade in the book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life.  

“Fix your attention upon what you are reading without thinking about what follows. . . . Pause briefly, from time to time, to let these pleasant truths sink deeper and deeper into your soul, and allow the Holy Spirit time to work. . . . Simply let the truths sink into your heart rather than into your mind.”

I read the Word and other resources because I believe there is the reality of the life of Christ in them.  I expect that reality to change my life in Christ too.  Up to this point in this post I’d only read from the book Discernment.  That quote was good but it felt incomplete without a Scripture reference so I did the digital version of randomly opening the Bible hoping for an unexpected surprise of applicable truth from the Word and up popped this verse of the day from biblegateway.com: Colossians 2:9-10.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”  [NIV]

That truth isn’t particularly mystical because of course the Bible is full of applicable wisdom.  Nevertheless it’s interesting to consider  that particular truth in that particular moment could be the reality of blessing from the Holy Spirit to remind me that “In Christ” is where I want to be.  In Christ I am being brought to fullness of both heart and mind.  May it be so!

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The Only Possible Option

Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 

I know my heavenly master but I haven’t paid enough attention to the awareness that while I don’t have a job and a boss, real life is my earthly master. I spend many hours each week in the Word and in thought dedicated to learning to live in this world “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”  That’s where “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you” comes into play for me.

I struggle to string together a coherent prayer built on God’s perspective for the dismal realities of that earthly master.  Those are situations so far removed from my own life; serious world situations and leaders that I have absolutely no control over.  I’m startled by the realization that I’ve let what I work at with all my heart, my dedicated preparation to know my heavenly master, insulate my mind from the only possible option I have to obey that earthly master.  It’s a revelation for me to accept the only frame of reference I have for those dismal situations I can’t control is prayer.  May that new “sincerity of heart” continue to be so!

Only One Right Answer

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

• Compassion • kindness • humility •gentleness • forgiveness • love
• thankfulness. 

I’m a list-maker so lists in Scripture always catch my eye.  The thing about lists is they serve a necessary purpose in daily life.  They’re usually filled with things to do and the object is twofold; to be reminded and to be able to √ items off. That’s how lists work.  I think Paul’s √ list of virtues works the same way.  It’s both a to-do and a reminder list but it has an added benefit.

Paul’s reminders are the right response to being “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” but they’re about more than behavior.   What if there’s another purpose to those reminders – the training of the heart?  What if each thing on that list of virtues is also a ? to ask yourself that applies to “whatever you do, whether in word or deed?”  What if the answer to each ? is as important as being able to √ it off?

• Compassion? • kindness? • humility? •gentleness? • forgiveness? • love?
• thankfulness?

Only the right answer makes it possible to add a √ mark after any of those virtues and there’s only one right answer to each of those ?’s.  “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly… And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

Transformed Scars

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

1…set your hearts on things above
2…Set your minds on things above
3…your life is now hidden with Christ in God
9…you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 

The Good News today is your life is “now hidden with Christ in God.”  Think about that for a moment.  Think about the times you’ve spoken or done things that needed to be hidden.  If you need a little help with that re-read verses 5-8 and you begin to remember it’s the pain and shame of your sins that Christ has taken upon himself to “hide.”

Those sins are now hidden. You’re forgiven!  Thank God for that, but you may have some scars.  Jesus has a purpose for your scars, just as he did for his own when he showed them to Thomas, the doubter, as proof of new life.  Remember those scars?  Remember whose image is renewing you?  

New life brings healing but even healing can leave scars.  Your heart and mind are now set “on the things above.”  Jesus has hidden your pain and shame and transformed scars into verifiable evidence: proof of the reality of your new life that may even convince others of his glory.  “You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”