Going Deeper 7-25-19

The second reading for Pentecost 7...
Colossians 2:6-15  As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.  For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.  In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.  And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses,  erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. 

Throughout his writings, Paul urges his readers to understand themselves as living/dwelling/abiding "in" Christ Jesus, the Lord.  This underscores the importance of seeing faith as not merely understanding and trying to believe the correct theological information.  It's much more than knowing about; faith is knowing intimately.  Faith is, above all, a relationship.

This life-giving, life-saving, life-changing relationship begins at our baptism.  Elsewhere Paul wrote,  "For as many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).  Baptism unites us with Jesus in such a deep sense that Paul will describe it as dying and rising with Christ.  We become part of Jesus, and Jesus becomes part of us.  Baptism initiates a life-long journey as a child of God.

Learning what this means and living out of that meaning is at the very heart of everything we believe and do.  That is why we do well to not focus our discipleship primarily on changing our behavior.  Our behavior changes as we change, as we become more and more fully what we already are-- children of God.  This transformation happens as we deepen our knowledge of-- our relationship with-- Jesus, the one in whom we dwell, who fills and empowers us with the Holy Spirit and draws us also into an intimate relationship with our Abba/Father.

I suppose we do need to change our behavior in one sense.  We need to pursue and do those things which nurture our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We need to listen to the calling of God, the calling of us to draw near.  Jesus knocks at the door of our lives.  Our wisest action is to open the door and let Him in (Revelation 3:20) more and more deeply.  We open ourselves up through opening and learning His word-- on our own and with others, gathering as the Body of Christ around Word and Sacrament, seeking Him in prayer, and practicing His presence.

You are, by grace, in Christ.  I urge you to continue to "live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."

With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."