One of the things that I think is fascinating about the New Testament is the ease in which it deals with antinomies. On one hand, we are encouraged to sell out completely when it comes to our allegiance and love for Christ; and on the other hand we are cautioned about become extremists in the pursuit of our faith. It’s such a delicate balance that from my observation, the church has had a great deal of difficulty finding it. We usually seem to be swaying from one extreme to the other, more like a drunk than a tight rope walker.
Paul is going to address extremes in the passage we’ll be looking at this Sunday. You can read it here: Colossians 2:1-10. And you should read this in the Message version also.
While he’s never actually met the Christians he’s talking to, Paul feels a great deal of concern for them. He wants them to stay on course…and again, remain simplified in their priorities. As we read these verses, we see it all comes down to Jesus. Nothing more, and defiantly nothing less.
As you read vs 6-7, what does it seem like Paul is trying to encourage these Christians to do?
His warning in v 8 is another interesting paradox. Paul himself was a man of great education. He even quotes popular Greek philosophers and playwrights at different times. It’s hard to believe he’s taking some sort of anti-intellectual stance here. What would be the “key qualifier” in v8? In other words, what is it about these philosophies and traditions that make them untrustworthy?
What extremes do we need to avoid in our culture that are similar to the ones Paul warns about?
Anyway….stuff to ponder ’till Sunday.
Moonrocket to Mars is leading worship…so you may want to show up late. 😉
4 thoughts on “Avoiding Extremes (part one)”
Moonrocket on Sunday — any band that adds a bullhorn to “Better is One Day” is on my “must see list”, even if it will be on the web.
You’re right, Paul was a man of letters. He would have been quiet at home in the room with CS Lewis, Malcom Muggeridge, and William Buckley. I think his caution in verse eight was not to avoid argument or discussion. We see evidence all throughout church history of great thinking men who engaged their culture (and each other) with great, thought provoking ideas. Paul did just this on a hill overlooking Rome.
What Paul was cautioning against was, for lack of a better term, the spiritual huckster. “Step right up boys and girls, do I have a deal for you. I know you’re confused about “the things of God.” Well listen here, I got this straight from (insert name of Angel or Spirit here), so it’s got to be true. Yes, that’s right — this is fresh manna from heaven, all you need to do is ….” and off they go, like the Pied Piper leading the townspeople’s children away.
Instead, Paul says, the truth of God isn’t confusing, yes it was a secret, but now He has revealed the secret to us (the saints) — as the Message says, “you can see and hear him clearly”. Everything that was, is, or is to be comes from Jesus. This secret is the basis of the Good News, it is the foundation of the Gospel —and it is plain to see and easy to hear. No magic flutes necessary.
Ok, let me correct one thing — Paul would not have been quiet at home …. he would have been quite at home… Man, will I ever learn to spell!!
I think the Colossian Christians were getting mixed up and deceived. One extreme may have been the pagan philosophy was being added to the Gospel message and the other extreme was the Jewish religious traditions or rules being added. They were complete IN HIM, just like we are complete IN HIM, nothing else!!!
Something that struck me in reading v.6-7 (esp. the Message version) is:
Upon believing in Christ, we are given an open path to the knowledge of the nature of God. It’s like a free membership to a gym…it does us no benefit if we never use the equipment. I think Paul was trying to convey [to the reader] to not be passive in this knowledge. We don’t have to be rocket scientists to understand living full in Christ…we understand it through our everyday experiences as we desire to imitate our Master. That is the key…to imitate our Master, not follow human traditions and philosophies which offer, at best, temporal fulfillment. Christ said He offers living water, which will never leave us thirsting! But we must drink of Him! Actively pursuit life overflowing with faith and gratitude.
Yet, we must be cautious not to elevate ourselves because of the knowledge given to us by God’s grace. That grace is available to ALL, and God meets each where they are; not where [we] may think they should be. It would be good for us [individual & collective] to remember where He found us, and let that be the harness of [our] extremism in this ‘EXTREME WORLD’.
side note: My thought is because so many have succumbed to hollow and deceptive philosophies, the emptiness of it all is what feeds the ‘extreme’ pursuits of this world & culture…of which I once belonged.