Something to learn..
When he wrote his letter to the church at Colosse, Paul was in prison, most likely in Rome.
He probably wrote in the middle of the first century, when Colosse was known as something of a ‘pick and mix’ town for religions and beliefs. Like today, Christians in the early centuries were not immune from those who sought to culturally appropriate aspects of their faith and perhaps try to merge them with other ideas or to make some of their more challenging beliefs more socially palatable. The apostle had heard that the church in Colosse had been disturbed by some false teachers in the town and he wrote to refute their errors or heresies.
We don’t really know the precise nature of these false teachings, though there has been plenty of speculation. It seems likely that there was some prevalent syncretistic blend of ascetic and mystic Judaism and Greek philosophy which may have threatened the truth of the gospel message. In Colossians 1.15-23 Paul may possibly be citing an early Christian hymn or poem which places strong emphasis on the pre-eminence of Christ, so it seems that the false teachers might have been questioning who Christians believe Jesus is. They may have been suggesting that Christ was merely an exceptional man who was, however, little more than an example for others to follow in their endeavours to reach God based on particular rules and ascetic practices. Though these teachers may have spoken of Christ in positive terms, nevertheless they may concurrently have been presenting him as a mere created being and therefore less than God.
Some people try to do the same thing today suggesting that Jesus was just a very good man who serves as a good example to human beings of how to live and seek God. Others find little conflict between their Christian faith and, for example, contemporary occult and astrological practices or fashionable philosophies.
In the face of such teachings and practices, Paul seeks to protect the Colossian Christians from going along with the prevalent philosophies of the times by insisting on the supremacy of Christ. Rather than Jesus being a mere mortal man seeking to become God, he is actually God incarnate who came into this world from the outside. So Christ is “the image of the invisible God” and God’s pre-existent active agent in creation to whom every living thing owes its existence, including all angelic powers.
In Greek thinking the paradoxical concept of an “image” of what is invisible in fact implied a true representation of reality. As such, Paul asserts Christ is an exact visible representation of God. In fact, all God’s “fulness” lives in Christ, he is the pre-eminent Reconciler, the complete Saviour and Head of the church, supreme over all creation. There can therefore be no other route apart from Jesus to any so-called ‘higher spirituality’.
In addition, it seems that the false teachers may have been familiar with both Judaism and Greek philosophy, both of which prized in different ways the importance of ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ and encouraged the idea of ‘mystery religions’. Accordingly, Paul may be seeking by way of corrective to show that Christ is the source of all knowledge and wisdom whilst revealing through himself the ultimate true mystery – that of the indwelling Christ in a new humanity.
We may think of redemption in terms of personal salvation. It is about that, but God has much bigger plans than me. Or indeed the salvation of the world. His plan was to redeem the entire universe. It meant the re-creation of a new heaven and earth in a cosmic redemption that reversed all the effects of the Fall and where “Christ is all and is in all” and where everything is under direct divine rule in the Kingdom of God. The human race will be redeemed to stand before God complete in its fully divine and fully human representative – Jesus Christ.
Do you think its important that we understand our lives as part of a larger story?
Something to talk about…
Read Col 1:15-23 together from the ICB version to include children and young people. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians+1%3A15-23&version=ICB
- What do you like and find encouraging?
- What do you struggle with and find challenging?
- What do we learn about God?
- What are we going to take away to do?
Something to do..
thinking about your story in light of God’s story.
For little people:
Draw a picture that tells us about you. You could include on it things like:
places you love to visit
things you love to do
your favorite thing to play with
your closest friends
For bigger people:
Think about your life and what have been some significant “kairos” moments. “Kairos” in greek means the “right time” and is used in relation to God’s timing in our lives. Hence a “kairos” moment could include when you understood more deeply something about God or it could include something that changed the course of your life which has been an instrumental part of God’s working in your life.
A spiritual practice to try…
Over the next two weeks give this spiritual practice a go…
Our World Pray for UK and world governments that they may successfully manage covid vaccine roll outs.
Our Church Pray as we continue to seek God’s leading in making new appointments to our Latimer Church leadership team
Myself Pray that I may be filled with praise and thanksgiving this week for my reconciliation to God and future hope through Jesus Christ
For resources for kids follow the link: https://ajourneythroughcolossians.wordpress.com/2020/12/17/latimer-kids-resources/