The Mystery of God's Plan
Throughout the month of November, I will be reflecting on the book of Colossians, and I invite you to spend time reading and reflecting on these words from the apostle Paul and Timothy to the church in Colossae. This week, we will spend a few moments reflecting on the second chapter of Colossians.
Click here to read Colossians 2.
Paul and Timothy continue their letter to the Colossians in chapter 2 by addressing the temptation to listen to sources of knowledge, philosophies, and even religious traditions above and ahead of Jesus. For the Colossian church, this seems to be the primary danger that the community of Christians is facing. There are alternative paths that these believers can take, and they may be taking to try to add or use instead of Jesus. The message that Paul and Timothy send to these believers is clear and obvious. Jesus alone is sufficient. Jesus is the head that directs the body. Jesus is the one in whom the mysteries of God’s plan for humanity and all the cosmos is being accomplished through.
This, of course, has much to say to us in today’s world. Just as different philosophies, religions, and even understandings of the world were at work in the world of the first century church (Judaism, paganism, Gnosticism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, etc.), so too do we have competing understandings of the world today. The rhetoric in the political arena in our part of the world may have always been a philosophy to contend with, but there is no denying that as those philosophies grow further apart and as both of our political parties become more divided (and vitriolic), these philosophies are drawing us in and capturing our attention in deeper and more significant ways. All one needs to do is say a phrase like “Make America Great Again” or “Critical Race Theory,” and the philosophies begin to go to war with one another (and if we aren’t careful, they go to war over our souls too).
But, into perhaps a very similar situation, Paul and Timothy write that “All the fullness of deity lives in Christ’s body,” and “God made you alive with Christ and forgave all the things you had done wrong.”
“My goal is that…[you] might have knowledge of the secret plan of God, namely Christ.” “The head nourishes and supports the whole body through the joints and ligaments, so the body grows with a growth that is from God.”
Paul and Timothy want the Colossians, and as we read this text us too, to understand that when we commit ourselves to Christ, Jesus is at the forefront of everything that we do. The competing philosophies and yes, even religious traditions that we practice, must come second to the person of Jesus. They even give advice on how to begin to do that in verse 6-7: “Live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him. Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught.”
Live in Christ Jesus.
Be rooted and built up in faith.
Overflow with thanksgiving.
When we begin to live as Jesus lived (seeking out those on the margins, showing God’s love, and seeking God’s kingdom), and when we establish ourselves and become convicted to live this way faithfully day after day, and when we begin to live with gratitude, this is when our witness begins to show that our allegiance is not to a philosophy or anything else than the person of Jesus.
This is what Paul and Timothy want for their Christian brothers and sisters in Colossae: to know the secret of God’s plan which is Jesus Christ the Lord. God’s plan for humanity and for the cosmos begins in Jesus. It is through Jesus that God’s purposes are being accomplished in the world and in us.
And so, today, this week, I leave you with these same words from Paul and Timothy. Live in Christ Jesus. Be rooted and built up in faith. Overflow with thanksgiving. In this way, I hope that we will all see and know that God is at work in us and in this world.