What is a healthy Christian? I am currently preaching this sermon series at Emmanuel and it is a very thought provoking question. In Colossians 2:6-7, Paul gives a portrait or blueprint of what a healthy, growing, vibrant Christian should look like. He writes, “ Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
First of all, in order to be a healthy Christian, a person must actually become a Christian by repenting of sin and trusting in Christ Jesus as the Lord. This means that Jesus has absolute sovereign rights over your life and you have submitted yourself under His leadership as King to rule your life. But in addition, Paul also commands us to keep on continually walking in close fellowship with Jesus. Jesus is not a philosophy, or an abstract thought, or a life coach, or a wise teacher who gives us our “best life now” or a guru with whom we can simply add on to improve our lives. Instead, Jesus is a living Person—the resurrected Lord—in whom we have a vital union and deep fellowship.
Paul then gives four descriptors or modifiers of what it looks like to walk in close fellowship with Jesus as your Lord. The first is an agricultural metaphor. He says that we are “rooted” in Jesus. It’s in a Greek tense that conveys the idea that it means we are “deeply rooted” or “well planted” into Jesus. We aren’t just causally connected to Him, but we have been united to him with roots that go deep.
Secondly, he uses an architectural metaphor. He says we have been “built up” in Christ. So what is your foundation? What are you building your life upon? Is it Jesus or something else? If it’s anything else other than Jesus and His Word it will eventually crumble.
Thirdly, he uses a marketplace or business analogy. He says we have been “established” in the faith. The word “established” was used of a legal guarantee such as a title deed when there was a transfer of property. In other words, Jesus owns us because He has bought us and as a result, we hold fast to the faith. The other two metaphors relate more to how we are interconnected to Christ as a living Person, yet this metaphor focuses on how because of that, we hold fast to the Word of God. We hold fast to the faith. We are established; we have “bought-in” (if you will) to the absolute truth of the Bible.
Now the fourth descriptor Paul uses is not so much of a metaphor but a result or the outflow of what precedes in the text. What should flow from us if we are walking with Christ, and we are rooted in Christ and we are built deeply into Christ and we are established in Christ? We should be overflowing with thanksgiving. We are a thankful people.
So how does this become a reality in your life? How do you grow deeper in maturity with Christ as a growing Christian? The first mark or characteristic of a healthy Christian is that you are to be saturated in Scripture. In Colossians 3:17, Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Scripture saturation is a lifestyle. It is a constant filling our hearts and minds with the Bible so that is dwells in us. It makes its home in us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 gives us the most comprehensive teaching on the powerful nature of the Bible. It says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Before we can even begin to know and obey the Scriptures, we need to have a full understanding of the nature of the Scriptures. It is God’s active breathed out Word that is powerful to transform our lives.
Most evangelical Christians believe that the Bible is God’s Word. We believe it is verbally inspired and that it is inerrant and infallible and trustworthy. The real issue where the rubber meets the road for us is if we are going to actually obey and believe what it says. Are we going to live ABOVE the Bible as our own authority picking and choosing which parts we like and want to obey or will we live humbly UNDER the authority of the Bible and adjust our lives to whatever it says no matter what?
Let me be really frank here: You cannot be a growing, healthy Christian if you do not have a firm commitment to obey the Bible—on EVERYTHING it says. The Bible has a lot to say about sex, marriage, finances, our talents and abilities, how we use our time, our language, and our thought life. Will you be one of those Christians who give lip service to Jesus and His Word, or will you make a firm commitment that you will obey the Bible no matter what?
And no matter what means—even when it’s not popular, or politically correct, or culturally accepted. It means that when the media or society or culture calls you a bigot or narrow minded or intolerant or whatever other name that they want to throw at you, you will stand your ground and remain committed to this Word no matter what.
Listen to how Jesus links Scripture saturation to being an obedient disciple. John 8:31–32: “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”