A sermon based on Colossians 2:6-15, for the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, January 16/19, 2020.
Signs all around the perimeter give warnings. Everyone knows the inherent danger that exists from doing this activity. The intermittent whistle sounds causing all to look at the one who broke the rules. Every now and then we see someone’s feet slip out right from underneath them causing them to hit the ground. Even our footing is not always stable causing us to heed the warning with a little greater care. The signs simply read, “No Running Around the Pool”. Footing might not always be the most stable in the area around the pool and other places. In our spiritual life, however, we have sure footing no matter where we go.
We Will not Fall!
- We are rooted in Christ.
- We are raised with Christ.
The news came as music to Paul’s ears. Epaphras, the pastor of the church in Colosse, told Paul about the people’s faith. The Spirit worked through his message and messenger bringing more people into God’s kingdom. Paul’s struggles were worth it. He loved to hear how people from all his mission starts grew in their faith. Paul, however, did not want the Colossian congregation to become stagnant.
“Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, by being rooted and built up in him, and strengthened in the faith just as you were taught, while you overflow in faith with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). The citizens of Colosse received the Word of God with eagerness and excitement. They gobbled up the Word. They studied it with extreme focus. The roots of faith started to dig into their heart.
Paul wanted to make sure those roots continued to grow. He did not want the winds of difficulty to blow their faith away. Paul did not want shallow roots that would wither away in the heat of persecution among the Christian church. The Colossians had to live in the Word. They could not, nor should they, be content at this point. Their faith had to be nourished so that it could grow. Paul encouraged them to come to church to gather around God’s Word and sacrament to be strengthened in what they had been taught.
The warning rings true for us just as much as it did for the Colossians, doesn’t it? God has sent his Spirit into our hearts. It all started at our baptisms. Throughout our early years our parents continued to nourish our faith as they sent us to Sunday School, a Lutheran Elementary School and Lutheran High School, and brought us to church. The roots of faith started to take hold in our hearts. As we grew we continued to make use of God’s word. The roots continued to grow.
We cannot be content with this. We cannot say that our roots are ever deep enough. As soon as our guard goes down, Satan pounces upon us. He waits patiently. He lurks in the background often going unnoticed. At just the right time, when we think our footing is so sure, he attacks. Satan takes us down. We need to constantly be on the lookout and watchful for these traps.
We see many examples of Satan taking people down. After 8th grade church attendance starts to dip. Confirmation is viewed as more of a graduation. We make the excuse that life is busy. We have too much on our plate. We will return later, but church will just have to wait. Even now we might be growing lax in our faith. We only go through all the motions. We have the best intentions of growing in God’s Word. We will follow through with our Bible reading plans. We will read the Meditations daily. Then the days get long. Duties pile up. We sit down to read the Bible, but our eyes grow heavy and finally close.
We need to continue to live in Jesus. I know it becomes cliché, especially for our Lutheran Elementary school students, yet we need to stay connected to Jesus. We will never know enough. We will constantly have to grow. We do so only as we surround ourselves with God’s Word and sacraments. We need to gather here for worship on a weekly basis. God’s Word brings calm to our chaotic life. His body and blood bring peace to a troubled conscience.
Our prayer, as well as our prayers for others, should always be that we are rooted in God. We desire to grow each and every day in God’s grace. When we do, we see the changes. Our trials will no longer be a burden. Our troubles do not seem as big. We no longer depend on our own strength, but we rely on God’s unchanging strength. Our roots continue to grow. They become stronger through the nourishing work of God’s Word. As we become firmly rooted in God, we will never fall.
Paul gives one specific example of where a person might fall if they are not rooted firmly on Christ. “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, which are in accord with human tradition, namely, the basic principles of the world, but not in accord with Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Paul knew the dangers lurking around every corner. Paul gave warnings to these Christians to always be on their guard. Lies. Deceptions. Empty words. All of these would come to try and pull the Colossian Christians away from God.
Paul did not want these empty words of promise and deceit to cause worry and doubt for the church at Colosse. They knew the real God. They knew the gospel message. They had to be rooted in Christ and not be blown away by the empty words.
Nothing new lies under the sun. We need to keep our eyes and ears open for all the lies and deceptions this world tries to push in our direction. We hear all the warnings about phone scams. The caller claims to be from the IRS, or a grandchild stranded in Spain or England, or a relative in jail, or I just got one last night about how my IPhone had been hacked. All they want is money. These people are scammers. They lie and deceive to get what they want. We immediately hang up on them.
The danger is worse for those who lie about our salvation. They don’t steal our money, but they take away our eternity. The means can be various. They will say that all religions are the same. All the teachings lead to the same goal eventually. They claim that we have to work for our salvation. They claim to have some insight into religion that nobody else has.
Lies! We need to able to spot those lies so we do not fall. We need to remember that we are rooted in Christ, and we will not fall. God’s Word is all we need.
Our trust will be in Christ and him alone. We are rooted in Christ. We will not fall. Our foundation is not built on lies and human wisdom. Our foundation is built upon Christ. Christ remains the center of all we do and teach, so we will not fall.
Our confidence is so strong for one simple reason. “For all the fullness of God’s being dwells bodily in Christ” (Colossians 2:9). Paul points us right now to Jesus. Jesus is no ordinary man. All the pomp and circumstance surrounding his birth gives us insight into this. In Christ we see God. The fullness of God’s being dwells in Christ. The Creator of this universe took on human flesh. He came down to this world to live as one of us.
This mystery goes beyond our sinful human understanding. How can Jesus be both God and man in one person? Many attempts to understand this has left many errors in its wake. Our hearts must simply trust in God’s Word.
It is very important that Jesus was both God and man. He had to be true man in order to be born under the law. He was tempted in the same ways as we are. He had to be true God to keep all the laws perfectly. His death had to count the sins of all people of all time.
Jesus does not leave us all alone in this world. He fills us up with his Word and faith. We overflow with the Spirit’s power in our life. Our sins find forgiveness in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It does not matter what we have done. Christ has cancelled our large debt of sin towards God. The law no longer condemns us. We have been set free from the harsh demands of the law, so that we can live a life for our Lord and Savior.
Paul describes it in this way, “You were also circumcised in him, with a circumcision not done by human hands, in the putting off of the body of flesh, in the circumcision of Christ, when you were buried with Christ in baptism. And in baptism you were also raised with him through the faith worked by the God who raised Christ from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12). Paul directs all attention to Christ and what he has done for all people. Christ circumcised us. Christ buried us. Christ raised us. Christ has done all things so that we will not fall in our daily walk of life.
In our baptism we were buried with Christ. The burial is the final part of a funeral. At the cemetery words of comfort and hope are read pointing us to the resurrection. However, there is a finality of burial. We will not see the body again until Jesus raises us from the dead.
So how can we be buried with Christ in baptism? We bury our sinful nature at our baptism. The Old Adam, which infects all, is drowned with the waters of holy baptism. Our sinful nature has been condemned. God marks the child as his own making them an heir of heaven.
No longer will sin rule over us. We leave our sins in the past. We still struggle. The Old Man resurfaces to tempt us. However, our sins have been forgiven. We are a new creation of God. Our sinful nature is buried, but our new man rises.
Baptism also brings about a new life for the Christian. Christ takes a lifeless body and raises it with his power over death. We now live for Christ. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too are raised from the dead through the power of Jesus.
This changes our entire outlook upon life. No longer does sin reign over this body. We live for Christ. We will never fall in this life for we have been raised with Christ. We are a new creation. Our sinful nature will inflict pain in this world, but it is not a part of our being. We will be rid of it one day, when we get to heaven.
Our confidence just bursts forth. In this section of Colossians Paul piles comfort upon comfort upon comfort for the life of the Christian. He points us back to the wonderful work of Jesus and the power it gives us.
When our sins bother us, we can tell them that we have been raised with Christ. When we feel unworthy to be called God’s child, God says he raised us with Christ. When we fall, God raises us up. Our sins have been forgiven! We have been raised with Christ giving us new life. We are God’s child. We are forgiven. We are rooted in Christ in all we do. We will never fall! Amen.