Read Colossians 1:15-18 (ESV)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
How does adding elements of other belief systems to Christianity affect our faith? Is there anything that can be added to Christianity to make it even better than it already is?
Have you ever had someone try to convince you that you need some other religion or school of thought in your life? Usually, they aren’t trying to convince you to reject Jesus but rather to add something to your faith in Jesus. For example, Jesus plus eastern mysticism, Jesus plus new age philosophies, Jesus plus legalism, etc. I once heard a song by Mason Jennings that proclaimed, “Oh Jesus, I love you and Buddha, too!” The issue is, I can’t think of any other school of thought or religion that could actually add something to Christianity to make it better. In fact, adding elements from other faiths only waters down Christianity. Dr. Warren Wiersbe had this to say about people who try to add to the faith: “They are not denying Christ, but they are dethroning Him and robbing Him of His rightful place of preeminence.”
For this reason, the apostle Paul dedicated the first half of his letter to the Colossians emphasizing the preeminence of Christ. He wrote this letter from a Roman prison around 60 A.D. We have no reason to believe that Paul had ever even visited the church of Colossae in Asia Minor but had only heard of it. The church in Colossae was founded by a man named Epaphras. In Colossians 1:7-8, Paul referred to Epaphras as the one who had shared the Gospel with the Colossians: “just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.”
It is believed that Epaphras became a follower of Christ in Ephesus, where Paul had ministered for 3 years during his third missionary journey. Apparently, after accepting Christ as his Lord, Epaphras went back to Colossae, shared the Gospel there and founded the church. While visiting Paul, Epaphras gave him a report about the church. It seems from Colossians 2:4, that Paul was writing to refute false teachings he heard had infiltrated the church. He urged them not to be deluded with “plausible arguments'' and explained how Christ is exalted over everything.
In today’s verses, Paul emphasized the deity, preeminence, and superiority of Christ. He wrote that He is the exact likeness of God. In other words, He isn’t just a representative of God but rather, He is the visible image of the invisible God—God in the flesh. He wrote that Christ is the “firstborn of all creation” not necessarily meaning the actual order of His birth but rather that He is first in rank. Christ reigns supreme over all of creation and He is the one who reconciled even the Gentiles who “once were alienated and hostile in mind” (Colossians 1:21). It was so important that the Colossians had a deep understanding of who Christ is, otherwise, they were susceptible to being led astray by false doctrine and false teachers.
But Paul also wanted them to embrace the right doctrine, because what we believe influences how we live. In chapters 3 and 4, Paul transitioned to practical application. He urged them to “set their minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2) and to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Colossians 3:5). He wanted them to “put off the old self with its practices” and “put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9). Paul explained how our new life in Christ should affect our family life, our work lives, and our interactions with others.
Paul’s major point in Colossians is that who we are in Christ should impact the way we live: “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations…according to human precepts and teachings?” (Colossians 2:20, 22). In other words, since we’ve died to the world, we shouldn’t try to add worldly things to our faith in Him. Christ is sufficient.
Friends, if we truly understand who Christ is and what He has done for us, we’ll realize that this world has nothing for us! All other worldviews and religions are flawed and fall short. They add nothing of value to Jesus Christ because He is totally complete and totally sufficient. He created everything, He rules over everything, He sustains everything, He is eternal, and His work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead is sufficient for our salvation and our future resurrection. We don’t need any other religion or belief system. Just Jesus.
Jesus, You are enough for me. You are God and You have been in charge since before the foundation of the world. You created the world and You hold it together. Your saving work is sufficient for my salvation. May I never try to add anything to what You’ve done for me. I don’t need any other religion or school of thought. Just You, Jesus. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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