Colossians 2.6-15 Trinity 9 Year C 24/7/16

Colossians 2.6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 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.  9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Paul uses several pictures or metaphors in this passage, some of which we will feature in this sermon. The first and main one I would like us to consider is that each one of us is a tree.

I don't know if you have ever though of yourself as a tree? I suppose if you are retired, you would be an elder! If you are liked, you would be poplar! If you like the coast you are a beech. If you are longing for something or someone, you are a pine. Or it could be that you are sycamore of these puns. I wood apologise for these oaks, but knot to yew.

Paul writes of being rooted in Christ. This planting took place at salvation when The Holy Spirit revealed to us that Jesus had been nailed to the cross for us, verse 14, bringing forgiveness, verse 13 & freedom from condemnation, verse 14.

We then have the picture of being built up. After the tree is rooted it starts to shoot and grows up towards the light, watered by the rain, fed by the nutrients in the soil. Jesus is source of spiritual nourishment, growth & fruit for the believer. We are to continue in him, verse 6 says it is to be a continuing and continuous growth. Perhaps we need to think about where we are our walk with God today? How we have grown in the last 6, 12, 24 months? How we can grow better and faster in the next 6 months?

Paul gives the picture of being strengthened in faith. We need to be strong in our faith. The Bishop of St Albans used to have the largest tree in the British Isles in his garden. A huge Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora japonica) with a height of 26.5m and 5m girth. However, last year a large branch fell off the tree and decay was found to be weakening the tree, making it dangerous. It has had to be trimmed to 6 metres.

Paul writes that this rooting, growing and strengthening should result in a response of overflowing with thankfulness. The blessings that come from God return to Him in praise. We can do this as we worship together, when we worship alone, and constantly in our hearts.

V8. The source of the life and growth above is God. Yet humans have throughout history sought a reason for living by their own, unenlightened thinking. Later on, in verse 13, Paul describes the Colossian Christians as having been dead in their sins. Someone who is dead does not have any life within them and cannot see the light. God raised Jesus to life. Since then he has been raising believers who were dead, to new life in Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Bishop's tree was rotten in parts and this was dangerous. Paul warns of a "Hollow and deceptive philosophy". This can include an atheistic or agnostic world view, but it can also include religious ideas and practices. After all, the Colossians were being distracted by the Judaisers who taught that you had to trust in Jesus and obey the law. This is why Paul refers to circumcision. He said that what was needed was not physical circumcision but a spiritual one. A removal of our sinful, human nature by God through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is what verse 11 is saying, In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ,

As Christians we need to reject false philosophy and religion that leads us in relying on anything other than the salvation that Jesus gives by the work of the Spirit and the growth and strengthening that overflows with thanksgiving as a result of God's Spirit working within us. Any religious ritual, any fantastic feat, any benevolent belief that is not inspired by God's Spirit cannot add to our salvation and growth.

We need to examine the beliefs that are behind our society and, even, the church and think, "Does this come from God? Is it in agreement with the Bible? Will it build me up and strengthen me in my walk with God and care of others?" Our belief system should be based "on Christ" verse 8.

Bishop J.C. Ryle (1816 – 1900) wrote, "Since Satan cannot destroy the gospel, he has too often neutralised its usefulness by addition, subtraction, or substitution."

It is clear that the false teachers at Colossae did not believe in the full, eternal deity of Christ. For Paul wrote, 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, This complements Chapter 1 verses 15-20 that was in last week's epistle. All the fullness of the deity (God), is (the tense is present), living within Jesus body. There is no part of God that could not be fitted into Jesus. REPEAT. Isn't that amazing!

This caused Charles Wesley to write

Let earth and Heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.

Jesus is fully God, forever. He is, therefore, the head over every power and authority. v.11. He is the head over death, fear, history, Parliament, the European Union, terrorists, evil forces.

Because Christ is who He is, He has given those who follow Him his fullness, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. People who have not received Christ Jesus as Lord, verse 6, are dead in their sins, verse 13. Because of people's failure to love God with their whole being and failure to love their neighbour they are spiritually, morally and mentally incomplete. They are unable to have fellowship with God, to live according to God's will and to know God's truth.

Believers have God the Holy Spirit living within them. 2 Peter 1.4 tells us believers participate in the divine nature. "Believers are spiritually complete because they have fellowship with God. They are morally complete in that they recognize the authority of God's will. They are mentally complete because they know the truth about ultimate reality." MacArthur New Testament Commentary.

Of course, this does not mean hat any of us will be prefect this side of glory. But our status with God, the way in which we live, and the basis upon which we live will have radically changed. We, and everyone has a choice. To follow human wisdom and philosophies or Christ. To come to Christ brings completeness. It brings a sense of identity and purpose. It brings love, joy, peace. It brings fellowship with God, His creation, and with people. It provides a certain, eternal hope that we will be with Jesus and like Jesus forever.

So, I would encourage you to

continue to be rooted in Christ based on His death and resurrection for you

continue to grow and be strengthened in Christ enabled by His Spirit, fed by worship, prayer, & the Bible.

continue to give thanks in all circumstances, knowing that Jesus is greater than everything and everyone and that we are complete in Him.