11-16-2021 Colossians 2:20-3:3
Paul here begins this passage with a simple question, if you have died to the world with Christ, why do you still follow it’s regulations? In our knowledge that the ways of the world are corrupt and hateful and that the enemy is the prince of this world, why would we compromise our spiritual health in it’s name? It serves to remind that the Church in Colossae was falling into heresy. It had already begun to accept sinful practices and beliefs. Worldly fears, worldly concerns, worldly beliefs, and Oriental mysticism had already begun to intermingle with Judaism and were leading the Church down this path of mysticism and human ritual. “Do not otuch, do not taste, do not handle,” as though these human rituals were able to superceed the decrees of God.
And, he proclaims, men have seemingly come up with this sort of “wisdom” to justify these decrees; he states that they have the “appearance of wisdom.” All of these leaders proclaiming that they are right and everyone else must fall in line with their demands. “False humility, neglect of the body.” And yet, he also states that each of these things are “of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” As fallen human beings, we are susceptible to certain things. We tend to give too much power to the world in our lives. We allow them to dictate our lives, our health, our beliefs. We want to hear only what we want to hear, and anything else we decry as evil. And this was what was happening in Colossae. The Church was appealing to this longing for “true for you but not for me.” They were placating this acceptance, which is how the mysticism began to seep in to the Church. It was mysticism that we could control. They were being taught that pride, deception, passion, all of these were completely natural, and therefore not sinful. So, again, we go back to this control. No one can tell me what to do or what to believe. Further, in the Church of Colossae, they were being taught that the heirarchy of celestial beings were supreme, not Jesus. And through the power of the angels, they could do or achieve anything which they desired. Finally, they were being taught that there was this gnosis, this belief that sin came from a lack of knowledge and that the heretics teaching them were the only ones capable of understanding what these sins were. Basically, in teaching them that they could do and get anything they wanted, they were being taught not that they were one with God, but that they were gods. There was no discipline, no doctrine; it effectively turned into “my will be done” instead of Thy will. It was claiming the name of Christ while completely disregarding all of His teachings.
He goes on to explain to them, if you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above. Don’t seek fame or glory or riches, not only are those things strongly warned against, but the acquisition of them becomes for naught with the awareness that no one is eternal on the earth. No, rather, we are to seek that which is above, the Kingdom. Our goal in life should never be to die with the most toys, it should rather be to seek His will for our lives. We have received His resurrection through Holy Baptism, the Holy Spirit through Charismation, why would we ever return to the same life and goals that we once had? The same principles, the same ambitions? Shouldn’t we rather seek the ultimate spiritual glories of the age to come? If we’re instead seeking to live our best lives now, isn’t that a sad thing, knowing that this life will end? Paul tells us to set our minds on these things above, specifically not the things of the Earth. If we look deeply, are we truly doing that, or are we seeking the things of the Earth instead?
I ask this question because if we are truly living in His resurrection, if we are truly living our lives in Christ, then we should be fully devoted to His teachings and the teachings of His Church. It’s never enough to pick and choose one or two verses here and there that we can twist to mean what we desire. No, we have to truly seek His life, His truth. To truly live in Christ isn’t to seek loopholes in the traditions so that we can continue to please the flesh or the world. To truly follow Christ is to obey Him regardless of what the world says about it. It is to face the world strong in our faith and not be afraid to stand up for that faith. Remember, the world hated Jesus, to the point of putting Him to death. And the one reason that the world hated Him so much, He wasn’t afraid of it. And for that reason, they sentenced to death the One who came teaching to love one another. Because the love that He taught wasn’t this inclusive, everyone do what they want, love. It was the love that a father feels for his son.
May we all find this same courage, to stand up to the traditions and sinful ever-changing ways of the world, and cling closely to the cross of Christ. Not to intentionally cause trouble or war or anything else, but to not relent on living our true faith, which has been handed down to us throughout generations for thousands of years. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
Christ is in our midst.