By Brooke Holt
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:8-12
Are you always looking for the next thing? The next car, job, vacation, spouse, raise? The question could also be: Will you be happy when you lose ten pounds, have a baby, graduate, and finish the project? The apostle Paul certainly could understand your affirming responses to these questions. Remember, he is writing this letter to the Colossians from a jail cell. Certainly, life would be better when he got out, right?
While he could understand, Paul teaches something greater than the next thing—the way of Jesus Christ. Instead of looking to his escape from prison or his next great ministry gig, Paul looks within himself and finds the all-sufficient one. Paul discovered he had everything he needed because the Holy Spirit of God dwelt within him. He was complete, full, and sufficient in every way through the Spirit of God.
From that place of ultimate security and joy, Paul reminded the Colossians that they, too, had the fullness of Christ dwelling within them. He longed for them to embrace that fullness and grow even deeper into that life of Christ. However, to do so, they had to recognize the false teachings circulating among them. These false teachings threatened to pull them out of that fullness of Christ and lead them into bondage. The great dangers of their day were the legalism of the Jews and the pagan spirituality. Paul teaches us to stand our ground against anything that would undermine Christ crucified as supreme and sufficient.
The work of Jesus freed them from the need to follow the letter of the law, the need for outward circumcision, and the idolatrous search for various spirits and angels. The Colossians had everything they needed to flourish in their lives in Christ. Paul warned and admonished them to hold to Christ alone. Why? Because Jesus Christ alone reigned supreme over heaven and earth.
How easy it is to put hope in the next thing. It is easy, but it is unfounded hope. Paul has been teaching the Colossians they already have the hope of glory. Why look to the next thing when you can look within and find him? Paul would ask you that same question. Why are you looking to anything or anyone external when God himself dwells within you? Whether you are in a physical jail cell, a hard marriage, an ongoing conflict with children, or any other life challenge, there is hope for you and your circumstances. You will not find that hope in a change of circumstances but in where you look for that hope. Paul knew hope in every circumstance; Paul’s hope was set on Jesus and Jesus alone. He would have you embrace that same hope today!
Where are you looking to find hope for today? How might the Lord be inviting you to stop looking at the externals and to begin looking to him alone? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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