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Navigating In A Changing Culture
Today we face the challenge to navigate our way in our home, work place, school or community with the pressure of our present secular culture. This culture would ultimately like to shape our faith in God and His word.
The Church that Paul writes to in Colossae faced similar challenges. Their culture had crept into the church and was pressuring the believers to conform to its perspective.
The “good philosophies” of Paul’s day did not deny Christ, but it did dethrone Him. It gave Jesus a place, but not the supreme place. The heresies at that time included the worship of angels, mysticism and legalism (a spiritual diet of rules) that would give them eternal life. There was a pressure on the believer, like it is now, to be a culturally correct. The “culturally correct Christian”:
- pursues the God they want, instead of the God who is.
- says God is relative but not absolute.
- may know the work of God but not the God of the work.
- has a head knowledge of Christ but “not Christ in you the hope of glory”.
- will “try God”, to see if He answers their prayers and makes life easier.
- believes that Jesus is just one of many ways to heaven.
- believes living a “good life” will make one right with God.
Paul writes to the church: 6 And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust Him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with Him. 7 Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him. See that you go on growing in the Lord, and become strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for all He has done. 8 Don’t let others spoil your faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong and shallow answers built on men’s thoughts and ideas, instead of on what Christ has said. 9 For in Christ there is all of God in a human body; 10 so you have everything when you have Christ, and you are filled with God through your union with Christ. He is the highest Ruler, with authority over every other power. – Col. 2:6-10 (TLB)
The best way to navigate the many voices in our changing cultural without having our faith taken captive, is to focus on our legal standing before God. If we understand what Jesus has done on our behalf, we will experience His amazing grace and live with the freedom that is ours in Christ. As Paul writes we need our roots to go down deep into the revelation of who Jesus is and what He did for us. In Colossians chapter two Paul gives four key truths we need to remember:
1. We are complete in Christ (2:3,9-10).
“In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Wisdom and knowledge are hidden not FROM us but FOR us in Christ. In a world that is experiencing an explosion in knowledge, Jesus is here to guide us in what is truth. The phrase, “in Him” shows us that Jesus is the center of God’s saving activity. We are completely right with God through what Jesus did. This is a fact to be enjoyed, not a status to be earned.
2. We are alive in Christ based on a relationship not a ritual (2:11-13).
When we put our faith in Christ, Jesus spiritually circumcises, or cuts away, our sinful nature in order to prove that we belong to Him. It’s important to remember that just as the physical act of circumcision did nothing to change someone’s heart, likewise water baptism itself does not save anyone. It is a wonderful picture of what takes place in our hearts. When we go under the water, we are symbolizing our burial with Christ. When we come up, we become a picture of what it means to be raised with Christ. We are raised up and have victory over the flesh by the strength of our Savior.
3. We have our sins are canceled (2:13-14).
In these verses we see that we are not only complete and alive, but our sins have been canceled. “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Notice that Jesus forgave “all” of our sins. That means every single one, even those that you have a hard time forgiving yourself for. Paul is saying our rap sheet has been canceled. All of God’s legal requirements for the wrongs we have done have been taken away. In our culture today, there is a desperate attempt to remove the shame and condemnation from one’s life. But only a revelation of what Christ did for us at the cross will set us free.
4. We have victory (2:15).
Evil no longer has any power over us because Christ has stripped Satan’s weapons from us. The only power Satan has is what we give him when we allow him to deceive us and create fear in our lives.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians is as important today as it was over 2000 years ago. May we pray for one another in these times even as Paul prayed for the church then:
“So, we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father.” – Col. 1:9-11 (NLT)