I can be something of a worry-wart. I worry about myself, and I worry about my loved ones. But I’m certain – much to my dismay! – that I do not know the depth of agony for others that Paul experienced. I have my moments – but I pray to God that he would instil more of that sort of agony in my life. You see, Paul agonised not only for Christians he knew, but also for Christians in general. It was his deep, desperate desire that all of us be encouraged and knit-together by strong ties of love. He was desperate for us all to have complete confidence that we understand the mysterious plan of God. Now – you don’t agonise over something unless you entertain the possibility that it might not be so. The idea of Christians being divided and not showing love to one another is horrible – if somewhat familiar. And Christians not being 100% confident that we understand God’s mysterious plan…. a common complaint today – one that I’m sure all of us as different stages have experienced. But what is this “mysterious plan”? It is Christ himself. In Jesus lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Paul is desperate that we be fully confident in our understanding of Christ. He worries over us seeking to “pad out” our understanding of God’s plan by calling on wisdom and knowledge found elsewhere than in Christ. Sure – one can make great sounding arguments for including beliefs and practices in our faith. But if they don’t originate or gel with the life, death, resurrection of Jesus – his Gospel – then they are invalid. But to know whether they are valid or not means we need to live as active followers of Jesus, as people who are completely confident in Jesus and his grace, as those who strongly trust Jesus. Otherwise we might be deceived.
It’s not enough for me to just accept Christ Jesus as my Lord. I’ve got to actually continue to follow him. Paul uses two fantastic metaphors to describe this. We are to let our roots grow down into him. Roots have two main functions. They bring nutrients and water from the soil into the plant, and they anchor a plant. I need Jesus for my very life – without roots that tap deeply into him, I will be malnourished and deficient in water. I will be parched. I will desperate for any sustenance. And I will tempted to seek it elsewhere than Christ – anywhere to slake my need. And I need to have my life anchored in Jesus. A tree can only withstand a strong wind if its root system is well-developed. I can only withstand “the storms of life” this side of eternity if I find my anchor in Christ.
Paul’s other metaphor is letting our lives be built on him. Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation. My life – every part of it – must be an extension and expression of his life. I could partake of all sorts of religious practices. But without the foundation of Christ, all that I build will ultimately crumble and fall.
As a plant takes in nutrients from the soil, and as a building is formed by its foundations, so too should I continue to follow Jesus in my everyday life. Because if I do so, my trust will grow strong in the truth I was taught. A constant looking to Christ will have the effect of nourishing my trust in all that God my Father has done for me in Jesus. And if I come to realise that more and more, may I learn to thank God more and more and more and more.
Thing is – no high-sounding nonsense can add anything to Christ. “In Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body! And if I am united with Christ – as I am – then I am complete in him. I don’t need any other wisdom or knowledge or understanding. Because Christ is absolutely all that I need.
When one becomes a Christian, it’s as if Jesus circumcised us. He cut away not a piece of skin, but our old sinful nature. In baptism, we were buried with him, and raised to new life with him because we trusted in the mighty power of God – the same God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Yes: I was dead because of my sins. But God made me alive with Christ. He has forgiven all of my sins. ALL! A_L_L_!!!! There is no longer any record of charges against us who are in Christ Jesus. Our record has been nailed to Jesus’ cross.
The spiritual powers and authorities have been shamed publicly by Jesus’ victory over them on his cross. Why would any Christian then bow to these shamed, weak, disarmed authorities. Why accept the rules and regulations that pointed to Christ…. when we’ve got Christ himself. That’s like insisting that the road sign pointing to airport is the place to be…. when you’re already at the airport!!
You know what: I’ve got Christ. No matter what anyone might say: that’s enough. It’s tempting to be religious and pious. I’ve tried it. I (like many – probably all of us) have a tendency to legalism. But legalism doesn’t do away with my sinful desires. If anything – it amplifies them. What I need is Christ in me. What I need is the new life that he has given me, and that even now he works within me. Take the world, and give me Jesus – every day.
Lord, thank you for all that you’ve done for me. Please help me to be deeply rooted in you, to build my life – all of it – on yours. Please help me to follow you well every day. Thank you that you have forgiven me. Thank you that you have given me new life. Help me to live out of that new life – help me to live you out.