“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
It is interesting to read the epistles and try to figure out if they were living according to the writer of the epistles (most probably Paul) perspective on the Christian life or whether they (as a church) had gotten side tracked by other things, concerns, and agendas.
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Verses 7 – 15)
At first it may be hard to discern from this passage whether the believers in Colossus were living wisely in their new faith or not. The sense seems to be that they WERE new in the faith (that is, at the time of this writing the church was only just established/formed). Paul tends to be gentler with new believers, especially if their intentions are/were good. It is more of a letter of guidance and further teaching then an admonishment of unwise choices. The RCL specifically includes this passage only up to verse 15, but acknowledges that the passage does continue, and so shall we.
“Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Verses 16 – 19)
These further verses seem to confirm the newness of belief, that they are still learning how their new faith does and should impact their lives. And again, Paul is gentle and encouraging with his guidance, as one would be with small children who are learning how the world works.
Again, I am writing ahead and living through what was going on at the time of this writing. I seem to remember writing before/one week ago that not being able to foresee the future I was not sure if the issues at the time would be as large in the coming week. The same is true now – it is France and more specifically Nice that was on the fore front. Not that other issues and other places in the world were not as needful or poignant. I have thought more often recently that considering the pace that things happen, maybe my posting is to be closer to an “in the present” time line. I do not have any illusion that these postings will travel down through time as Paul’s writings have.
Oh beloved reader, it is a fast passed and changing world we live in. Oh for the times gone by when such gentle letters were sent to believers, encouraging them in the Christian life and promising better things and hope for the future. In our present times, what hope can I offer you? But the Spirit reminds me that suffering and persecution was the lot of Christian believers, and that Paul himself suffered much for the faith.
Do you suffer, beloved reader? Are you hard pressed and living in dangerous places and dangerous times? Readership is more and more scattered throughout the globe I think, based on what this hosting website tells me of new followers. If I can offer some measure of hope by calling to mind scripture and encouraging you to look to the Divine for support and guidance, I am gratified.
May the Holy Spirit instruct you with gentleness and patience, and may the Lord God support and nurture you in these troubled times! Selah!