Read This Week: Colossians 2
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 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 2:7-8 NIV
In Colossians 2, Paul is writing to a community of people that are struggling with the issue of identity. They are wrestling with the truth of who they are and with understanding their significance in Christ. He pleads with them to not “let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that comes from human thinking and from spiritual powers.” He is saying to not be influenced by voices from the outside that try to tell them who they are. Voices that try to shape their thinking about life and their relationship with God.
Paul wants them to put their faith in the words of Jesus to find the significance and value that leads to freedom. The New Testament makes it clear to whom (Jesus) we should go to base our lives and identity, but it is also clear about who shouldn’t be allowed to influence us. Paul uses the word anyone in this passage and it means “a specific person or a group of people” that doesn’t affirm or promote the teachings of Jesus.
This is important because there are a lot of people talking in our ear each and every day. We often feel compelled to listen to them, pay attention to their philosophies, and even insert them into our lives. But when the scriptures say, “anyone” that means anybody in our families, friend group, workplace, on social media, or talking into a microphone. We are not to let any specific group or person, capture us with these empty philosophies or thoughts that do not come from Christ.
Shallow and deceptive information can have a major impact on our lives. We can be oppressed by the lies that come from others. We begin to believe things that are not true about God or about ourselves and it “takes us captive” in a prison of false belief. We begin to listen to and apply what anyone says about who we are, about our value, our worth, our identity, and our significance in this world. We can become enslaved to those ideas and controlled by false thinking that then oppresses and sometimes pushes us down roads and paths that can be incredibly destructive. It can hold us in thought patterns, lifestyles, and choices that are harmful, unhealthy and not based in truth.
But there are no prisoners in a life with God. Christ has set us free from the bondage of sin and the lies of the enemy. He has given us authority over the powers of the world that seek to deceive, oppress and destroy us. When we root our lives in Jesus, we understand how and by whom we are created. We understand that our value doesn’t come from doing more, buying more, pleasing more, and achieving more but from being created in the image of God, fashioned meticulously by Him for a relationship with Him. We understand that our lives are not dependent on what the future holds but on a secure future in Christ. We understand that our significance is not governed by how we view ourselves or by how others view us but by how God views us through Christ. In these truths, we find freedom.
So we shouldn’t let anyone or anything in our life, as Paul is telling the Colossians and as he communicates to us in our day and age, enslave us, oppress us, or take us away from the truth of what we know about God. We’re not prisoners. We’re free.
I really connect with the idea of “being held captive” in a secular frame of rules. The section of the passage I felt drawn too was subtitled “Freedom From Human Rules”, verses 16-23 in the chapter. Paul addresses the importance of withdrawing one’s self from groups that overwhelm us with their ideas and illustrates how God nourishes our spiritual growth as we act as the body to His head. Instantly, I thought about my professors at college. For anyone who has experienced this huge step in the journey of life, they understand how many different experiences and challenges this four year period presents.
I was off on my own for the first time. With this independence, I had to start from scratch from building a level-headed group of friends, as well as focusing on my individual goal of excelling in classes to receive my diploma. The individuals with wisdom around me were mainly professors. In classes and in life, those adults were who many students went to for advice. However, the vast majority of these leaders were non-spiritual and based all of their decisions and wisdom off of secular experiences they had. Not only that, but I also witnessed encouragement of doing things I grew up seeing as morally wrong.
I figured out I was always an outlier and outnumbered even in the classroom, simply from spiritual and political differences. College was a place that could transform everybody’s way of thinking. Students were ultimately experiencing the journey of “becoming their own person”, even if that meant straying away from God or even how their family raised them. The kids that did not know of God never had a platform that encouraged spiritual development. I saw a lot of those individuals look at their professors as if they were a spiritual figure, simply because they had no one else.
What I am trying to say is that it was such a developmental stage for the 18,000 students on my campus. The majority were taking the exact opposite approach Paul is stressing about. With authority figures, I definitely believe they are wonderful resources and they should not necessarily be ignored. However, secular beings should not be our full influence on how we should make decisions or form our thoughts.
Praying for clarity and following the path you feel like God is leading you down is something I always try to do. Outside influence can be very destructive if it overshadows this relationship with God. Like the text says, we should always live by the Word and allow God to be the head. God loves each and every one of his children. Knowing that one thing will always give me the comfort of knowing I am significant, even through tough times. I pray that God will provide me with the awareness of recognizing false prophets, improper messages, and situations where I am becoming too heavily influenced by secular thinking.
I so appreciate your really thoughtful and in-depth comment, Brecken. There are so many good insights and personal perspectives as well as application to this passage in here that it is hard to highlight one section. But this is part that stood out to me:
“With authority figures, I definitely believe they are wonderful resources and they should not necessarily be ignored. However, secular beings should not be our full influence on how we should make decisions or form our thoughts. Praying for clarity and following the path you feel like God is leading you down is something I always try to do. Outside influence can be very destructive if it overshadows this relationship with God.”
I like how you recognized God’s general grace in allowing a variety of people to be in our lives and have authority or influence on us. We can learn from anything or anyone (positive or negative) and one of the beautiful things about life is the plurality of experiences and people that we get to be around and do life with. The key, however, is what you referenced and that is having a Christ-centered relational/influential filter.
To me, the relational/influential filter is the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit and the process that you described as “praying for clarity and following the path you feel like God is leading you down is something I always try to do.” This doesn’t guarantee complete immunity from bad influence but it will give us an exponentially better chance of avoiding the influences that will capture us with hollow and deceptive philosophy that can lead us down a destructive path or imprison us in harmful thought patterns.
You’ve identified a practical and spiritual process that anyone can use at any time in life to make sure the voices we are listening to are the ones in step with God’s purposes and with the teachings of Jesus. Ultimately, the voices that are best for us.
Touching on the part of “immunity from bad influence”, I feel like we need to experience some tough times. By saying this, tough times are certainly something I never wish for. However, I have really analyzed my spiritual growth within my life and could really draw parallels from becoming closer to God by learning a lesson in a bad situation. Whether that was a breakup, losing connection with old friends, or a rough semester in school, everything had some positive effect on my future.
Without a doubt, I had some of my darkest feelings and thoughts during a few rough patches. Yet, spending time talking to God and asking for clarity rejuvenated the belief that through Him, everything will be alright. So in conclusion, not only just with authority figures, but simply a general outlook on life, we should always consider having a filter and utilizing wise decision making as an everyday practice. It is okay not to be okay when times are hard, but it is not alright to lose faith in a greater plan God has for us.
I agree with you, Brecken. I believe the tough times and exposure to influences that are not always the best can strengthen our resolve, deepen our faith and force us to seek the truth. Sometimes, challenges that press in on us and push us into seasons and spaces in life that are taxing and difficult, reveal our mettle and cause us to dig deep into the knowledge of who God really is. I know in my own life, it has been the seasons of attack from the enemy and the onslaught of outside negative voices that lie to me, when I have grown the most and experienced some of the richest intimate moments with Jesus.
Paul also writes in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that our troubles are of great effect not only in our lives but in the lives of others. Negative times and influences give us a chance to move back toward our Savior but it also allows for the opportunity to point people back to the source of truth, beauty, and grace. Paul says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
This week while reading in 2 Corinthians i got a song The whole Chapter was good.
He is the Truth
He is the truth, He is the way
He is the truth, He is the way
He is The truth He is the Way
We are grateful He strengthens us through his overflowing love
Our Father is amazing, amazing living in our hearts
Sharing his truth, faith, hope, and love
He is the truth and the way
He is the Truth and the way
Like the song says, Jesus is the truth and the way. Without him, we would have nothing. He will never forsake us, its all about a relationship. I really do feel blessed to be God’s child. Always remember with Christ anything is possible.
As always, thank you for sharing your heart with us, Alma. Jesus words in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me,” is a powerful statement from the Savior. He was making a self-evident proclamation that only He could make and fulfill. Your song reminded me of this new one called, “The Way”:
I believe through every blessing
Through every promise
Through every breath I take
I believe that You are provider
You are protector
You are the one I love
I believe You are the way the truth, the life
I believe You are the way, the truth, the life
I believe You are the way, the truth, the life
I believe You are the way, the truth, the life
I believe You are
I believe You are
Thank you for your beautiful song! You touch everyone week after week. We feel God’s love overflowing through them!
For me, your songs are so wonderful for several reasons; 1. they are from God to you and from you to us, 2. They are a flow of your love relationship with God, it’s so obvious. And 3. they are fresh in the moment. It’s so refreshing to see you interact with God, the Bible and with the family of God this way. Thank you so much for your ministry Alma.
Colossians 2:1-7 says, “I am working for you. I am working for the people who live in the town called Laodicea. I am also working for all the people who have not met me. I want you to know how hard I am working. Here is the aim of my work. I want to encourage all these people. I want them to unite with each other because they love each other. I want them to have full certainty and to understand completely God’s secret plan. This plan is Christ himself. Christ contains all knowledge and wisdom. I am telling you this for a reason. Other people want you to believe something that is false. The way that they argue may sound good. They are trying to persuade you to believe them. I am not present with you in my body, but my spirit is with you. I am pleased that you have discipline in your lives. And I am pleased that you remain firm, as you trust and believe Christ. You have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord. So, you must continue to live with him in your lives. You have put your roots deep into Christ. Build your life on Christ. Someone taught you the truth about him. So be strong, as you believe the truth. Continue to thank God for what he has done for you by Christ.”
I just love how Paul puts God’s business, the family of God first. He is teaching all of us how important it is to God to work very hard for Him. He is encouraging the ones who are working very hard for God and trusting, and believing in Jesus.
Paul makes a strong point about continuing to live with Him in your lives. It’s not about material things, because you can’t take anything with you when you go home to be with God, all you take is what you do for our Father and the family of God. You are always growing, continue to seek God every day, seek Him in everything you do and say, and be an encourager, a great servant, one who works very hard for God. you get blessed (spiritually)
Father God trains and corrects all whom He loves because He is a good good Father.
Never forget God has an awesome purpose for your life so always remember He is always helping you, training you, teaching you, because He is looking for us to desire to be a great servant, a person who leads others in the right direction. You have to be taught by the Holy Spirit. so you can know God’s will for everything you do and say!
God is Faithful to us are you faithful to Him? We have a saying in Hawaii be FAT, Faithful, Available and Trainable (Teachable) If your not how can God use you on His team?
Continue to learn every day, read your bible, ask God what’s on his heart all day long.
Desire to be like Paul, faithful, available, and trainable. He is an awesome Servant for God.
God is saying, I have great plans for you, be faithful, desire to know Me more and more, to know My will is for you to seek Me, ask me all the time what you should do in every situation because I AM always with you and I’m here for you anytime. It’s always going to be about a relationship.
I’m all about family, learning how to help others, to get along, My blessings are you to feel encouraged, to feel comforted, knowing who you are in Jesus,” It’s important to know that our purpose here is to be in a relationship with God first, Hang out with our heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then to help others as God leads us. That’s what our life is all about, and don’t let others who don’t get us off track of what our purpose is.
I agree so much with what you are gathering from His word. God gives us many opportunities to be disciples for Him. When we can interpret His teachings properly and share the good news, we are fulfilling His purpose, which is to bring more of our brothers and sisters toward Christ. Often, our society is materialistic and can get caught up in finances, secular relationships, and items. All of this is truly temporary. An eternal life to worship our Lord and Savior is priceless and is the most sacred. Very well put!