By BRUCE GREEN
Teaching Minister at 10th Street Church of Christ
As Paul writes to the disciples at Colossae, he is addressing a youthful church with a pagan background. Epaphras started the church there (1:7), and despite Paul’s time in the region, he hadn’t been to Colossae (2:1). Although Epaphras would have filled him in on whatever he needed to know about the church (1:8), it wouldn’t be the same as having actually been there and meeting the people face-to-face, would it?
What should Paul say to them? What strategy should he adopt in reaching out to this fledgling church? The answer to these questions is simple and straightforward and shouldn’t surprise any of us; He chooses to talk about Jesus.
He talks about Jesus in a way that is theologically rich and deep (see 1:15-20 and 2:10-15). He speaks of Him in a profound, layered way that at least initially might leave us scratching our heads and wondering about his words. He has a little more to say than simply, “Jesus is Lord” (though Paul would be pleased with that summation). He is digging deep because he wants them to build high (1:28).
Colossians deals with details. It’s one thing for a man to say of his spouse, “She’s a wonderful wife.” It’s another to speak of her loving and kind ways, her consideration for him and others, and her gentle manner. He’s still saying, “She’s a wonderful wife,” but he’s elaborating in ways that help us to understand exactly what he means when he says she is wonderful. That’s the kind of thing Paul is doing in Colossians in regard to Jesus. He’s detailing what it means to say that Jesus is Lord.
This was helpful to the disciples at Colossae because like us, they faced challenges. Their lifestyle needed to reflect Christ, so Paul delves into daily living for Jesus (3:1-11). He adds some words about what being the body of Christ should look like in terms of relationships (3:12-17). He also discusses the home (3:18-25). All of this means as we like to say, that Paul’s letter is “practical” and “relevant.” Yet the words “Christ” and “Lord” occur a combined total of sixteen times in this section. Theology and biography are simply different sides of the same coin and show us that Christ is to be woven into every aspect of our lives.
Finally, being a disciple at Colossae was a little like being at an Ikea or a Buc-ees in that to their undiscerning eyes, everything (i.e., every religion and god) looked good. From the pagan perspective, if one god was good, then many gods were better. After all, you wanted to cover your bases. There’s even some suggestion in the letter that Judaism had caught their wandering eye (2:11-23).
And with that, we’re right back to . . . Jesus, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:3). Furthermore, “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (v. 9-10).
Colossians informs us in no uncertain terms that disciples don’t need to look around — they simply need to drill down in Christ!
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. (Colossians 2:6-7)
You can find more of Bruce’s writings at his website: a-taste-of-grace-with-bruce-green.com