- Colossians 1: Growing in your Relationship With God
- Colossians 2: Growing in your Relationship with God
- Colossians 4: Sharing your Faith
Colossians 2: Growing in your Relationship with God
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There are other voices . . . (2:8)
I want to talk about Jesus Christ tonight. But I want to start in Colossians 2:8, where Paul warns us that there are competing voices in our lives that vie for our attention. And he calls them here, “Hollow and empty philosophy . . .”
Paul knows that we love to listen to just about anyone, before Jesus Christ. Even though Christ is God himself, we would rather listen to something else.
Example: People are listening today to this John Bradshaw guy. And without cracking on John, I just ask myself, “Where does he get this stuff from? The talking to dolls. The inner child. The various steps and formulas?” And he speaks them all with such authority! Here is the truth, that I agree with Paul about: We would more readily listen to him than Jesus Christ.
Example: I listen to music a lot. Most of the particular lyrics are kind of laughable. You don’t take them all that serious. But I do notice that there is an overall impression I get from listening to the music I listen to. And that is a very negative, critical, sarcastic outlook on life. I may tend to be that way already. But listening to that perspective adds to my bombastic, negative and sarcastic ways. It affects me deeply.
I know someone else might develop a philosophy of love and romance from listening to their favorite music. Or another person might develop a belief about themselves, or that life sucks.
The amazing thing about music, musicians and stars is that we listen to these people (they’re featured in columns for what they think . . .), but their lives are so un-together. They’re working on their fourth marriage. They live in some surreal, plastic world that we’ll never relate to. But we listen to them.
This is what Paul is trying to crack on here. The stupid traditions of men are more important to us than what the God of the universe has to say.
Christ was God (v. 9)
And Paul is definitely trying to make the point that Christ was nothing less than God himself. He does this by repetition. He says “all”, meaning “every bit”—of the “fulness”, meaning the “completeness, everything about God,” was in Christ in bodily form.
Frequently watered down
One of the reasons that Paul is emphasizing this so much is because there were teachers stopping by this city who said that Jesus was a great guy, but he was just an enlightened teacher. Now, if that sounds familiar to you, it’s because one of the most popular forms of teaching today also says the same thing. That would be what we loosely refer to as “New Age Philosophy.”
New Age religion is really smorgasbord, a cafeteria-line approach to religion. The basic tenet of New Age thinking is “believe whatever you want.” Usually it turns out to be kind of a mix of some Christian ideals with some eastern religious teaching. But one of the common elements is that they have to deal with Jesus Christ. And what you will find is they water down his own teaching about himself.
No one wants to say, “Jesus, don’t pay attention to him.” So what they’ll do is water down the things he said about himself. Because there is no doubt that he claimed to be God.
In a passage very similar to this one he was asked by his disciples to reveal God to them. “Jesus, show us the Father,” they asked. And Jesus’ reply was, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (show John 14:8, 9)
There was another passage in John 10:30 where Jesus said outright to his jewish audience, “I and the Father are one.” They knew something that a lot of other people today don’t seem to realize, namely, that nice people and good teachers don’t say that type of thing.
He’s not a good man if he says, “I am God.”
Example: If you’d said that kind of thing to Muhammed, he would have torn his clothes and cut off your head!
Example: If you’d said that kind of thing to the Buddha, he would have said, “You show a very un-enlightened mind to ask that sort of question.”
Nobody in their right mind claims to be God. Come on! Try for a minute to put yourself in Jesus’ shoes, saying, “If you’ve seen me, then you’ve seen God himself!” If you can imagine yourself saying that, you should be concerned!
A guy who says that kind of thing is either a complete nut—really deluded—or he’s telling the truth. There’s no room for this, “He was a nice man” type of thing.
Tonight we don’t have time to discuss the evidence for whether Christ was legitimate in this claim. But just in passing, I’ll note that Jesus himself said, “If you want proof, I’ll give you this: I will be killed and I will raise from the dead on the third day.” One of the great challenges for sckeptics is to explain how it is that with Jesus predicting, “I’m going to raise from the dead,” and the people who killed him (the Romans and Jewish rulers) saying, “No you’re not.” And with them placing a 24-hour guard over his body. The early Christians were able to say with confidence, “He has risen from the dead. I have seen him. Hundreds of people have seen him.” And no one could raise a shred of evidence to refute them. No one could say, “Here’s the body! He’s still dead!”
It’s really a very compelling piece of evidence for Christ’s claims. I can direct you to some good reading on this subject if you want some more: The Son Rises: Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Wm. L. Craig; More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.
We ought to take a moment and talk about how it is that Jesus is God and God is God. This is a teaching we see in the Bible where there is more than one person who is God. Actually, there are three. There are three persons who are God . . .
Now, it’s not so hard to conceive of three Gods. It’s not hard to conceive of many Gods. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about one God, who is three persons. One God, three persons. That’s where it gets kind of puzzling. How can one be three?
Well, the way the Bible portrays it to us is that they are three persons, but they are so unified that they are one. It tries to portray this through imagery like this, that of a family. There is a basic unity there in an ideal family.
Their oneness may come from communication. They may be in such complete harmony of thought and communication that they are one. Or, it may be that there is something in the very nature of God that makes him one and dependant on each other. It’s a little bit tough for us to understand. But there is one parallel in the world, that God put here.
In the relationship of marriage, when God created it, he pronounced, “The two should become one.” God’s ideal in marriage was such a level of trust, communication, dependance, etc., that the two become like one. This idea is virtually laughable in a culture with so much marital failure. And you certainly wont’ see an idea like that come out of Hollywood. But that was God’s ideal. And I think it reflects the way he is.
So, this is how it is that we can have three persons who are actually God.
Application: Things Jesus taught us about God
When it comes to applying this teaching, that Jesus was God, I think it’s very exciting just to look at Jesus from that point of view. God was on the earth living as a human. He walked around and did stuff. I find that to be fascinating. There is so much we can learn about God from the life of Jesus.
God parties (Luke 7:34)
This is a remarkable thing here. What does it take to get a reputation as a gluttonous man or a drunkard? I’m sure a lot of us here could easily get that reputation. But this is God! God came to earth and earned the reputation of being a gluttonous man and a drunkard!
Do you think most Christians would ever get called these names here?
But God did.
God is funny (Matt. 5:29; Luke 6:42; Matt. 17:27)
In a passage we talked about a couple weeks ago, Christ says, “If you lust with your eyes, tear them out!” That kind of outrageousness is typical of him. And he says, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.” Again, if he wasn’t laughing on the outside, he had to be cracking up on the inside. It’s so outrageous.
Example: Imagine your friend coming to you and saying, “I’ve been struggling with lust lately. Been masturbating some.” And you reply, “Well, maybe you should gouge out your eyes and chop your hands off!”
In another passage he says, “If you’re going to take a speck out of someone’s eye, you should remove the log from your own!”
There’s another passage where Jesus’ disciples are challenged about whether they pay taxes or not. And Jesus says, “OK, fine. Go catch a fish and the first fish you catch will have a coin in it. Take the coin and pay our taxes for us.” Again, this is great. Because you try and put yourself in that situation. “It’s time to pay taxes, and Jesus says to go fishing for my taxes!” I find this kind of sarcasm, or irony to be typical of Jesus.
God is convicting (John 8:1-11)
To be around Jesus was to be exposed. You had to be honest because he knew people so well.
God bonds with people (John 11:33-36)
This is a story where one of Jesus’ friends dies. And Jesus is openly gushing about it. He even knows he’s going to raise his friend from the dead. But he sees how his family is broken up and weeping. And he just can’t stand it, because he is personally and emotionally close to these people.
There’s also another passage in the book of Matthew where Jesus is spending his last night with his disciples and he says, “This is the last time we’re going to have wine together till we see each other in heaven.” And then they sing a hymn together. It’s a very emotional and tender moment.