I’m currently leading a Bible study of Paul’s letter to the Colossians and in coming to chapter two was reminded of one of the briefest statements about the Christian life in the Bible. In Colossians 2:6 and 7 Paul instructs his readers then and us now, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him [or walk with him], rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
It is indeed a short statement, but it is also a packed and pithy one. I don’t know of anyone having done it, but in reading the two verses I can imagine someone writing an entire book explaining and expanding on this nutshell. I’m not going to write a lengthy essay on the passage, but I do want to make some observations about it.
Paul begins with the reminder that the beginning of the Christian life takes place when someone receives or accepts Jesus as Lord. Receiving Christ as Lord is crucial, and even though Paul doesn’t mention it here, it also includes accepting him as Savior. Both mark the beginning of living in and walking with Christ consistent with one’s confession.
Paul then moves to challenge those who have received Christ Jesus as Lord to live in him [or walk with him]. That includes, of course, not doing things that followers of Jesus are not to do, but also, and equally as important, doing what Jesus calls his followers to do.
Paul assumes that those who received Christ Jesus as Lord are “rooted and built up in him.” These two metaphors use the examples of a tree with deep roots and a house built on a strong foundation for Christians who have received Christ. In the next phrase, “strengthened in the faith,” Paul reminds them that they have been taught about these things.
I’m thinking Paul’s reminder to these believers about their becoming Christians, and his encouragement to them to live the life, is something needed in churches today. And my sense is that it is happening in many ways in most churches through preaching, Bible studies, classes, small groups, and more.
Before I conclude these thoughts I want us to note the last instruction Paul gives in this nutshell to those who have received Christ as Lord in verse 8: “overflowing with thanksgiving.” Of all people, those of us who are Christians should be filled with gratitude. And if we are filled with gratitude, then we should be overflowing with thanksgiving. Grateful first I would think to God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; but also to those who enrich our lives in so many ways by their words and actions.
Perhaps those of us who have received Christ Jesus as Lord and walk with him can get a head start on Thanksgiving this year as we ramp up our overflowing with thanksgiving during the entire month of November.
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