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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, January 7, 2019

Today’s Scripture ReadingColossians 2:6–12

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. (NRSV)

This is our one shot at Colossians during this cycle of devotions, so let’s make sure we know what we’re dealing with: a letter to a church in a city of Asia Minor (Turkey) during the first century, a church founded with the announcement of the gospel by a guy named Epaphras (Colossians 1:7). The letter is ostensibly written by the Apostle Paul and Timothy, and it assumes the situation of Paul’s imprisonment.

Today’s verses lay down some bedrock gospel. Christ is fully divine (verse 9). The believer is buried with Christ through baptism and raised with him through faith (verse 12). To the contemporary Christian, the language is stirring in its familiarity.

But there’s something behind these strong assertions about who Jesus is and who we are in him. You get the fuller picture when you read on. The saints in Colossae are flirting with some “philosophy” (verse 8). Maybe it’s an early form of Gnosticism, the belief that faith entitles you to special spiritual knowledge nobody else knows, or maybe it’s a dalliance with a rigid form of Judaism emphasizing sabbath observance and dietary laws. Either way, the warning to them (and to us) is to remain “rooted and built up” in Jesus. The simple message we’ve received and accepted of his birth, life, death, and resurrection is the surest foundation on which to base our lives.

God—who establishes us in Christ our Lord—receive today our gratitude for him: the shape his teaching gives our life, the effect his faith has on ours, the freedom, the salvation we know in being buried and raised with him. May our every breath proclaim our joy and gratitude. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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