“As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” Colossians 2:6
Shoes matter. I am a runner, or at least I try to be one. Last week on a long trail run I paid a painful price for running. Reason? I need new shoes. Shoes matter because you cannot run or walk in what you are not standing in.
Walking in Christ, as you received him, has far-reaching ramifications. Jesus Christ came to you by grace so walk with him in grace. You came to Jesus Christ through faith so walk with him by faith. Too many followers of Christ understand grace and faith the day they come to Christ, but fail to see that same foundation everyday after. As means “in the same way.” In the same you way you received Christ walk in him. Walk in grace by faith.
I love to run because it helps me feel alive. Christians are alive, the problem is that too few are choosing to live like it. When I run I feel free. My mind clears. My spirit refreshes. My body renews. Too often we, who are religious, take the experience of freedom and see it as the avenue for freedom. I must remember…I am not alive because I run. I run because I am alive.
Colossians 2 gets into deep and significant imagery to describe life in Christ. The “saints” in Colossae were being taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit. There are 3 key areas in which people are led astray from truth: Tradition, Elemental Spirits, and Things Not of Christ.
Tradition ¹ Truth. This is a clear tenet during the Protestant Reformation. Just because you have done something a certain way for a certain period of time does not make it true, good, or useful. Telling your children every Christmas to be mindful of the “naughty and nice” lists does not teach them any truth concerning Christ’s birth we celebrate. Honestly, the tradition teaches the opposite of gifts of grace. Healthy traditions remind us of the truth we are free, they do not attempt to cause freedom or feelings of freedom.
Circumcision and Baptism are discussed in this passage as imagery of life in Christ. The circumcision of Christ reminds that our sin has been cut off in and covered over by the flesh of Christ. The Old Covenant command was an intentional picture of the truth that would mark us in Christ. Baptism is not a tradition, it is truth. Baptism illustrates 3 truths. Death. Burial. Resurrection. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are remembered in baptism. The death of self is confessed before baptism. Burial of the old life is seen when one goes under the water and the resurrection to new life is symbolized in the coming out of the water. This commanded confession of every believer is not a Baptist tradition. It is Biblical truth.
Elemental Spirits = Everyday Realities. Christians believe in the spiritual. God “is Spirit,” yet we functionally treat spiritual realities like myths. The basic spirits of the world are real. We believe they are. We must live like we know this and remember that “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” Victory is ours! My family and I experienced have experienced some very real moments of these spiritual realities. Once when I was involved in leading someone to Christ out of a cult. One of my children began having dreams that were very vivid and very to the point of the teaching of this cult, which my child had never heard. We prayed. I asked others to pray. We prayed through our house one day after three nights of these vivid dreams and never again have we experienced any influence. Why? Christ won…over 2,000 years ago. Live in it.
Not of Christ = Against Christ. Our culture does not like to see black and white. Our culture loves grey. (Or hates it these days…depends on your point of view.) The problem is that as often as we take things that are black and white in the Bible (like adultery for the purposes of entertainment) and make them grey; we also take things that are grey in Scripture (like entertainment and what it can and cannot be) and make them black and white. Too often, in religious and non-religious circles, people want to make rules in areas that are honestly disputable and ignore rules in areas that are more clearly right and wrong. Stop messing with grey and live true.
Jesus told his followers that if you are not with me then you are against me. I challenge followers of Christ to simply ask this question, “Is this of Jesus?” If the answer is no, then you probably need to not do it. Another good way to think about it would be, “If Jesus were with me, would I do this?” (BTW he is with you.) If not, don’t do it. I know Jesus is a friend of sinners and was not afraid to be in the midst of those committing sin. But we must remember that He lived with a focused and expressed mission to, “to seek and to save what was lost.” If you make a decision for the sole purpose of bringing truth, grace, and love into a situation, then you will begin to distinguish black and white out of grey. Some Christians will look down on your choices (get over their unhappiness and live free). However, if you are making that same decision for your own entertainment or happiness, then you may be using Jesus’ sacrificial lifestyle to justify your grey life choices.
So, just as we received him, we walk in him. Dear Christian, you are ALIVE…now go live. Live free from sin not free to sin. You are now free to live free from that which has others in bondage.
So put on your Jesus shoes. Walk in Jesus. And live free!
This blog post is a written and shorter version of Sunday’s sermon at Fellowship. If you would like more detail about what we believe about Baptism, tradition, and life in Christ please listen to the podcast at this link. http://www.fellowshipchurch.cc/media.php?pageID=6