It is the last day of November, and thus, the last day in this series in Colossians. Here are some final thoughts. I do so wish I had one of those amazing brains that could read back through all I wrote the last 29 days, then give you a superb synthesis, tying it all together. I do not have such a brain. My husband does, but he's not the author of this blog, so what you get are the thoughts foremost in my mind at the moment!
I'm leaving Colossians with two big ideas rattling around in my head:
1. Christians need to read their Bibles and spend (lots of) time thinking about Jesus.
At the time this was written, there wasn't yet a cannon of Scripture for the early Christians. Later, this letter became part of the cannon. Paul spent the majority of the book focusing on Christ: His identity, His purpose, His role, His work, His glory. He presented Gospel Truth to the Colossians and summarized what Christ had done for them three times before the end of chapter two (1:13-14, 1:21-22, 2:13-15). If they didn't need to be reminded, I don't think Paul would have spent so much time writing about Jesus. Focusing on Christ would protect them from being swayed by false teachings, keep their eyes set on things above, motivate them to put off the old self and put on the new, and enable them to pursue righteousness in their relationships and work.
As believers in the 21st Century, we need to be reminded of and refreshed by the Gospel just as the Colossians. We need to immerse ourselves in God's Word. Fuzzy feelings or speculations about God and our salvation in Christ will not sustain us. We need Christ Himself, and we encounter Him through the Spirit and by His Word. As the Word takes root in our hearts, the fruit of the Spirit will flourish there. We sure need the Word of God - written and Christ Himself.
2. Theology and life are interconnected.
I remember reading in a commentary on John by R.C. Sproul that our doctrine is important, because it enhances our worship, making it more meaningful because we comprehend more about God and ourselves. I don't often remember things from books, only that I liked or disliked them, but this concept really stuck with me and has influenced my desire to keep reading the Bible, to read commentaries, to ask questions, to wrestle with the tougher ideas in Scripture.
Paul certainly lays out in his letter to the Colossians just how interconnected theology and the Christian life are. Our theology will influence how we live as Christians; the way we choose to live will influence our theology. I heard someone say once that everyone's a theologian, the question is whether you're a good or a bad one. Paul emphasizes throughout Colossians the necessity and importance of believing in the real Jesus and the true Gospel, not something that has been added to or altered to feel more comfortable or controllable for us. There is a cycle: as our theology is on track, we'll begin to live "on track" with it. When it's off track, the cycle is the same, but on a bad track. Likewise, when we choose to live in a way that allows us to pursue good theology, we find it. If we don't care or don't think it's important to pursue, our theology will head off in the wrong direction. (It will. The heart is deceitful above all things, Jeremiah 17:9.)
For example: I have found that when I study God's Word, hear it preached, read edifying books, and learn more about God, I'm left in greater awe of the Gospel and desire to live for Christ in a free and joyful way. Good theology, Christian living for good reasons. When I start to stray from the truth and believe lies the devil is whispering to me or start living like an orphan rather than an adopted daughter of the King of kings, I live and try to be a "good Christian" motivated entirely by fear and doubt. Christian living for wrong reasons. Do you find this to be true for you too?
Paul laid good theology out for the Colossians so they would not forget who they had been, who God is, and what they now were because of Christ. It was of first importance to him and he knew it was what they needed to stay the course and continue in [their] faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel (1:23).
Praise God for the hope held out in the gospel!
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If you have been reading this month, thanks for joining in on the journey. Did you learn anything new? Has God been using Colossians to challenge you? A blogger always wonders about these things! Feel free to leave a comment, I'm grateful to know you stopped by.