October 2, 2017
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
Four words from the second verse will offer both picture and frame for this whole project of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Did you catch them?
The big question: Which will be the picture and which will be the frame? Will this Roman city with its culture and value system dominate the picture, inviting the Christians and their Church to provide a bit of baptismal window dressing for the big show? Or will the in-Christ-ones (i.e. Christians) supply the art, with the cultural context of “in Colossae” serving as the frame? Will those who are “in Christ” really live as those “in Christ” or will they choose to live more like those “in Colossae,” blending into the ever turning and twisting cultural landscape like a kaleidoscopic chameleon?
Maybe I’ve shared this with you before, but I recently came across a book whose title alone compelled my acquisition.
A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of the Upper and Middle Classes in this Country Contrasted With Real Christianity.
I kid you not—that is the real title. The author? William Wilberforce.
In every age, from the first century to the twenty-first, there are always two primary alternatives: in Colossae and in Christ. There is the prevailing religious system and then there is real Christianity. It’s practical, conventional, and insanely reasonable. The prevailing religious system mimics the real thing at many points, with it’s hat tips to God, public invocations and social customs, offering a palatable civic religion most patrons will readily salute.
The issue is not whether we will live in Colossae or not. We must live there or Cincinnati or Centerville or wherever it is we have been appointed to live. The question is whether we will live in Christ or not. Will I become a bona-fide in-Christ-one? This is the awakening we must have. This begins to happen when my attention turns from my disgruntlement with the insanity around me to my discontent with the incongruity within me. When this awakening becomes greater and greater within us it leads to the awakening becoming greater and greater around us.
So back to that book title: A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of the Upper and Middle Classes in this Country Contrasted With Real Christianity.
This book goes by another title. It’s called Colossians. Or maybe we might call it Americans. ;0)
Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who would give himself to us so completely that we would become unmistakably like him. Turn my attention from what is wrong with the world to what is wrong in my own life. Come Holy Spirit and stir me to a deeper awakening. I want to be “in Christ,” a real Christian. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.
- What do you make of this picture and frame analogy with respect to “in Christ” and “in Colossae?”
- Are you tired of the conventional religion of cultural Christianity? What ways do you see that “in America” (or your own context) has corrupted what it means to live “in Christ?”
- What will it look like to turn the focus from the problems out there onto your own life and faith?
P.S. I’ll be saying more on this in the future, but I really want you to come to the New Room Conference in 2018. (September 19-21). You can sign up today only for $99. Rate goes up at midnight. details/register at newroom.co/conference
Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. email@example.com.