6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
(Colossians 2:6-8 NIV)
Paul begins today’s passage with the phrase “So then…”, signifying a transition dependent on the points he shared before with the statement he is about to make now. the phrase “so then” is equivalent to the more familiar “Therefore…”, causing us to ask the question “what’s the ‘Therefore’ there for”? In fact, both the NASB and ESV translations use the word “Therefore” instead of the phrase “So then”.
So what was Paul referring to? Paul had just commended the Colossian church for their deep faith in Christ and for their disciplined life in Christ (v. 5). Paul continues to follow the reason for his commendation of the Colossian church back to the point when they received Jesus as Lord of their lives (v. 6).
When we look at verses 5 and 6 together, we see Paul painting a chronology, a timeline if you will, of the Colossians’ life in Christ. Paul begins in the center of the canvas, showing where they are now. Paul then moves to the left-hand side of the drawing and recounts the point where they came to Christ. Having shown the Colossians’ beginning point in Christ as well as their current coordinates, Paul then masterfully moves to the right-hand side of the canvas and paints the road ahead.
What does Paul forecast for the Colossians’ future (and for ours, as followers of Christ)? That we would continue to grow deeper in Christ, to abide (as Jesus said in John 15, referring to the vine and branches visual) in Christ.
If we continue to abide in Christ, what will the outcome be? Paul enumerates the blessings in verse 7:
- we will be more deeply rooted in Christ, even more grounded than we were before
- we will be strengthened in our faith, just as we have been taught by faithful men and women who walked this road of faith before us
- our hearts will be overflowing with gratitude and thankfulness to Christ
Paul does not waste time with idle words depicting a bright and rosy future filled with rainbows and butterflies, where all our circumstances are pleasant and outcomes peaceful. This painting is not an idyllic pastoral scene with delicate spring flowers, blue skies, and wispy white clouds sailing by in the gentle breeze.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Paul is painting a picture of our future with Christ as a seascape along a rugged shore, where we are like a tree that has withstood the storms of life and the test of time, and continues to prosper and grow. Our future success has nothing to do with our circumstances, and everything to do with our deep roots in Christ so that nothing can move us or shake us. Paul says that despite the storms of life, we will be overflowing with thankfulness and gratitude.
Paul paints this picture in verses 5 through 7 as a backdrop to what he has to say in verse 8: Don’t surrender to anyone or anything that tries to uproot you from your groundedness in Christ. The arguments may be compelling, and the promises enticing, but there is nothing there but emptiness, captivity, destruction, and death.
May we always remember our source of life is not a religious set of rules, nor a philosophy, nor our own sense of morality or self-righteousness, but a relationship with the God of the universe, made possible through His Son, Jesus Christ.