Tenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 12 (17) (July 24, 2016)
- First reading and Psalm
- Alternate First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
Colossians 2:6-15 | New Living Translation
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powersof this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.
Last week we looked at the supremacy of Christ. This week we look at the importance of being completely rooted in Christ. Before we get to the main part of today’s reading, Paul is cautioning the Colossian believers to be careful that they not be deceived. We all know those who are very crafty with their arguments. They are good at their craft – but they are not rooted in Christ. I remember a situation that now would be close to 10 years ago. I was approached by a man after the end of a service – I can’t exactly remember what we were talking about – but it had something to do with Jesus. The things that he said did not ring true – they didn’t sound like the Christ that I had learned about and the Christ that I had been serving. He kept insisting that he was right, but something was not right. It sounded quite a bit what Paul was describing in verse 8. “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. This is exactly what this man was spouting. While those in Colossae didn’t have the advantage of 2,000 years of tradition, we do…we know how the church has traditionally believed and we can avoid many of the obstacles that the early believers had. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to know God’s Word. We need to be rooted in the Word of God – and I mean the Word of God that was made flesh and dwelt among us – that is Jesus. Paul says, “For Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
This word complete has shown up before in this letter to the church. In verse 1:28 Paul writes, “we want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.” I know we struggle with this word “perfect.” None of us feel perfect – I know I don’t. But the context means mature – lacking nothing. Why would God ask us to be perfect if it wasn’t possible – however it is possible to be mature in Christ. This is also what Paul is getting at when he talks about us being complete in Christ. Perfect, mature, complete – these are all synonyms – meaning mature or complete. Christ wants us to be complete in him, lacking nothing. This is a great prayer for us to pray. We can only become complete in Christ when we are rooted deep within Him.
As most of you know, yesterday was our moving day and we are now in Eldred, PA. The area of Western New York is undergoing a drought. You can see that in the grass that has shallow roots – it is getting brown, however the trees which have much deeper roots continue to be green. It is important for us to get our roots deep in Christ. That is the only way to be mature in Christ – that is the only way to avoid temptation.
We are reminded in this letter that we need to let Christ perform a spiritual “circumcision” – that is, we need to let Christ cut away the sin in our life so that we may become mature and complete in Christ. We are reminded that we are made new in Christ through Christ’s resurrection. When we are in Christ, we should look and live differently – we should constantly be maturing in Christ.
It’s awesome what God did at the cross and also through the resurrection. We who were dead in our sins were forgiven when God cut away our sin…God canceled our sins…and put it on the cross. Here’s the really cool part, this disarmed the other spiritual powers and gives us victory through the cross.
So be rooted in Christ – the one who gives you power to live a victorious life in Christ.