Colossians 2:6-7…Growing in Christ

Are you growing in Christ? Are you making progress in spiritual maturity? Paul gives us insight into what a healthy Christian looks like in Colossians 2:6-7: “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.”

Paul begins by reminding us that we have received Jesus as Lord.  If you are a Christian, Jesus is your Lord. You have surrendered your life to Him to lead you and to be your King. You are living under His rule as sovereign in your life. Also, Paul tells us to walk in Him. This means that we have a dynamic and living relationship with Christ where we orient our entire lives around Him. He is more than just an abstract thought or philosophy. He’s more than just something we tack on to our lives. He is more than just a free ticket to heaven.  He’s more than just a nice teacher who gives us direction in life. He’s more than just a life coach or wise guru who exists to give us our best life now.

If we claim to be a Christian: it means that we have received Jesus as our sovereign Lord to rule and reign over our lives and that we are to have a lifestyle marked by continually walking in fellowship with Him. What does that look like? What does that produce? What should be the result of walking with Jesus as our Lord?

Paul uses four metaphors or imagery from common daily life to help us understand more fully what it means to walk in intimate fellowship with Jesus. The first is that we are to be “rooted” in Jesus. This is an agricultural metaphor. 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. Jeremiah 17:8reads, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Second, he uses an architectural metaphor. He says we have been “built up” in Christ. 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.

Third, 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 first two metaphors relate more to how we are interconnected to Christ as a living Person, yet this word picture focuses on how we hold fast to the Word of God.

The fourth descriptor Paul uses is not so much of a metaphor but a result or the outflow. 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 thankful people.

Paul provides a vivid picture of a growing, maturing follower of Jesus. One who has received Christ as Lord and is continually walking in a dynamic and powerful fellowship with Jesus. One who is rooted deeply in Him. One built firmly upon the Lord. One who is established in the faith and doesn’t waver. And one who overflows with thankfulness. Does this describe you?

Welcome One Another

Paul instructs us in Romans 15:7: “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” This word “welcome” means to accept or admit others into fellowship. Paul roots this command to receive one another in the example of how Christ has welcomed us in the gospel. How did our Savior welcome or receive us as rebel sinners? Did he wait for us to get our acts together before he died for us? Did Christ expect us to get rid of all of our depravity before he decided to come to earth and serve us? What if Christ had the attitude that he would only accept or welcome us if we were worthy or polished enough to earn God’s love? If Christ adopted that attitude, none of us would ever be saved. At the end of the verse, Paul tells us the overarching aim of embracing one another—the glory of God. When we have a lifestyle of accepting and welcoming one another by showing love and concern, we model the love of Christ, which glorifies God. The opposite of embracing one another involves a plastic fakeness where we display attitudes of perfectionism, hypocrisy, and judgmentalism where there is no real communication or authenticity. That behavior does not glorify God.

So how do we welcome or accept one another as Jesus accepted us? Galatians 3:28 provides a helpful, practical model of how we should welcome one another as fellow believers. Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul addresses three issues that our sinful culture abuses and distorts that should have no place in the life of the church. Think about the questions or comments our culture asks: “What color is your skin? What language do you speak? How much money do you make? Why are you so poor? She’s a stupid blond. He’s a male chauvinist.” These statements reflect a worldly attitude toward others instead of welcoming one another for the glory of God.

First, there is neither Jew nor Greek, which represents the ethnic or racial barrier that prevents us from receiving one another. In that culture, Greek and Roman men regularly thanked the pagan gods that they were not born as barbarians, slaves, or women. Jewish men would ask rabbis to say a blessing of thanksgiving over them that they were not born a gentile, slave, or woman as well. As baptized believers, we are all one in Christ as the children of God. He has adopted us into his family, and there should be no sinful divisions. We all share a unified gospel identity in the Trinity that binds us together. Christ eradicates all ethnic barriers in the church. Sadly, not understanding this unity can lead to the sin of racism. Racism is utterly sinful, and we should never mistreat, malign, or show prejudice against anybody who is of a different color or ethnicity than we are. In the church, we should fellowship and love one another across racial and ethnic barriers.

The second issue reflects the socioeconomic barrier of neither slave nor free in Christ. Our world naturally associates according to class and socioeconomic issues where the rich look down on the poor and the poor look down on the rich. We should fellowship across socioeconomic barriers. Sadly, this barrier often leads to materialism and oppression. The rich get richer by oppressing the poor. Or those less fortunate shun and resent the well-off.

Paul’s final description refers to the gender or sex barrier of neither male nor female in Christ. We need to be careful here because some have taken this verse to promote radical feminism and say that there are no gender distinctions in the home or the church. I hold to a complementarian theology which means that I believe that the Bible instructs that men should be the spiritual leaders in their homes and that wives should graciously submit to that leadership. Likewise, in the church, only males can be elders who teach and preach in positions of authority. This verse warns against the sin of chauvinism, sexism, or misogyny.

Here’s the bottom line: When God saved us from sin and baptized us into a church family, he freed us from the evil forces of racism, materialism, oppression, and sexism. Instead of acting like the world which abuses and distorts these categories and distinctions, we who have a gospel identity in the Trinity should live lives which are radically different from the culture around us.