Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 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.
Remember: Jesus is Lord.
That’s the key message of the book of Colossians. If you ever get lost in the book, and are not sure what exactly it is that Paul is saying, ‘Jesus is Lord’ is a good place to come back to. How is what Paul’s saying reminding us of Jesus’ lordship over every part of our lives? How does Jesus’ lordship change how we live?
Today’s passage is answering the second of those questions.
Paul is writing about ‘spiritual fullness in Christ’ and beginning to turn his attention to all the other things that were clamouring for the attention and adoration and worship of the Colossians – especially those saying that Jesus wasn’t God or suggesting that wisdom and knowledge are to be found outside of Jesus. That’s what verse 8 is about: ‘see that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces.’
Basically: if it doesn’t point you back to Jesus, if Jesus isn’t at the centre of it – bin it.
Because Jesus is Lord. He is the ultimate source of wisdom and knowledge. He is not hollow or deceptive. He is solid ground. He depends on nothing, not on human tradition or elemental spiritual forces. After all, he is the image of the invisible God.
We live in a world which offers us many suggestions of where ultimate satisfaction, wisdom, and knowledge can be found. You’ve probably seen a whole bunch of suggestions already today, especially if you’ve scrolled through your newsfeed or opened up social media. Just this morning, in fact, I was informed that both a fidget ring and a new brand of moisturiser would change my life.
Those are silly examples, let’s be honest. But scrolling through social media certainly makes me consider whether I would be happier or more satisfied if I travelled more, or had that particularly snazzy pair of trousers, or more followers who liked my posts.
That is – in Paul’s words – ‘hollow and deceptive philosophy’. But it’s a hollow and deceptive philosophy that permeates our lives and the lives of those we interact with on a daily basis. We know that – alluring as these things might be – they will not ultimately satisfy us. They will not ultimately save us.
Because Jesus is the only one who can truly do that.
Associate Speaker for LICC and Church & Theology Executive at International Justice Mission