First Mennonite Church
July 4, 2021
Christ: Our New Address
Text: Colossians 2:1-19
In eleven days, two of our own will be moving to Arlington, MA. They will have a new address, which they will give to relatives, friends, and to incumbent entities. As we know, before anyone moves to another place, he or she must have a place secured where to move. Only drifters would not worry about doing that. The comparison of having a new address is precisely the image we find in this passage today.
Christ is our new place of residence. Paul speaks of Christ as the place where all believers find themselves. We live in Christ (vs. 6, 9, and 10). We are buried and raised with Christ (v. 12). We are made alive with Christ (v. 13).
First, what does it mean to be in Christ? Is it the same as when people say, “I am into yoga now, or into ballet, or into classical music?” We understand that the expression simply means the person has an interest in those things. Being in Christ has a deeper meaning.
According to Paul’s definition, being in Christ is not simply the acknowledgment that he was a great teacher or that he is the ideal moral model. Paul describe Jesus Christ in the following way: My goal is that they (the churches he writing to) may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
First, Jesus is the mystery of God, made known to mankind. Or, as Paul says in verse nine, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Jesus said to Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Therefore, we, who believe in Jesus Christ, can say with confidence that we know God. To some, it might sound pretentious on our part to say that, but is what Jesus say. Therefore, it is our task to grow in our knowledge of Christ, so that we may grow in our knowledge of God.
Secondly, in Jesus Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of God, so that those who are in him may never be misled by fine-sounding arguments of any kind.
There have always been many kinds of wild ideas floating around and they still continue to float around. There have always been sleek talkers of every kind, and there still are. And many people fall victims to them, even some Christians. Christians who embrace some of those ideas or arguments believe these ideas are complementary or corollary to the teachings of Jesus. In other words, they see that certain actions or stances they take based on those ideas are an extension to their Christian duties. Therefore you see people holding a Bible or carrying and waving the “Christian flag” even when they are acting, not only in ways contrary to the rule of law, but more importantly, against the spirit of Christ. That is why Paul’s words should be an admonishment to us about all those phony ideas, theories, and sleek arguments floating around. Since New Testament times, Christians have fallen victims to what Paul calls “idle notions . . . [of those who] have lost connection with [Christ] the head” (v. 18, 19). Being in Christ, therefore, means, we are grounded in the truth, which enables us to have spiritual discernment to test the spirits and every idea that floats about these days. Christ is now our wisdom and knowledge. Any idea or action that contradicts the spirit of Jesus does not come from God.
But who or when do we begin to be in Christ? In verses 13, and 14, Paul says, “You were dead in your sins” but “God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us.” We were dead, dwelling in the realm of death. But from there we were made alive and relocated with Christ through our coming to him in faith. When we received Jesus as Lord and Savior we were made alive. Paul explains that “having been buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through your faith.” Here, Paul uses baptism as the sign of our resurrection with Christ. God not only gives us a new life, but he also transfers us to the glorious light of Christ Jesus. We, then, begin to be, to live with and in Jesus Christ. In baptism we are made alive and Christ becomes our new address.
Once we have received Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we begin to dwell in him and he begins to dwell in us. We should remember what Paul says, “In Jesus dwelt the fullness of God in bodily [physical] form,” who now lives in us. Therefore, the holiness of God, the love of God, the wisdom of God, the peace of God, and everything Jesus manifested about God, now dwell in you and me. We resemble God’s character, when we reflect the life of Jesus, now and here. This possible with one condition, however. Verse sixand seven: 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.
When we give our address to someone, it is understood that we dwell there permanently. Our address is our permanent place of dwelling. It is the same with being and living in Christ. We remain in him. Christ is not just a place we go to when we need help. Christ is now our permanent address; we live in him and he lives in us. However, Paul knew that dwelling in Christ requires a deliberate effort to do so. Therefore, he uses two words to express that idea. The first is that which makes a tree immobile and stationary, its roots. You don’t plant a tree in one corner of the yard and find it on the other the following day, right? Roots have two functions. One, it makes the tree resist the wind from toppling it down and, two, it uses it to channel nutrients from the soil onto the branches, leaves, fruit and all. The image of being rooted in Christ, thus means, we should grow in our relationship with him and make him the source of our life.
The other image Paul uses here is that of a building. To be built upon Christ means that we must grow in the likeness of Christ. This is by both learning more about him and by obeying the words of Jesus. Knowledge without practice is useless. Practice informs knowledge. Obedience to God grows as we study the word of God. And likewise, study of the word of God should move us to obey God. Must naturally, being rooted and built upon Christ happens in the context of community life. When we gather for worship, to pray together or for one another, when we study the word of God together, when we encourage one another, when we care for one another, and so on, through all these aspects of Christian life we sink our roots in Christ; we are built in Christ, the only and true foundation. By staying in communion with one another in the church, we also dwell in Christ. Christ is the new address we have been given by the grace of God. We live in Christ and Christ lives in us, individually and as a community.
Let me close with the words of Paul found in chapter one of Colossians:
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:11-14). Amen!