Reflecting on the Cross

This past Sunday I preached from Colossians 1:19-23 about being encouraged to continue in the faith by reflecting upon the cross.  As you will remember Paul is addressing a serious theological error in Colossians that threatens to draw believers away from Christ.  Noone is completley sure what this heresy was but it appears to have three basic elements.  First, it stressed performance as a the means of obtaining God’s grace, thus it stressed things like circumcision, the observance of varous feast days and other ascetic practices. (Col 2:11-17).  Second, it had an element of human philosophy attached to it. (2:8-10)  Finally, it emphasized an experiential side of Christianity that was reserved for only the elite. (2:18-19)  The problem according to Paul is that all of these things were drawing the Colossians away from their simple trust in Christ.  Therefore, he encourages them to stay faithful but leading them to reflect more deeply about the cross.

I belive that in so many ways we have the same troubles going on in the church in America today as they did in Colossae.  The story I told about my friend Mike who jumped from one spiritual subsitute after another looking for something to fill his life until he finally recognized that all he needed was in Christ.  Once he began to reflect on the work of Christ on the cross his whole persepctive on Chrsitianity changed.  He recognized that he could add nothing to what Jesus had already accomplished.  Rather than struggling to find what was missing, he began to rejoice in what he had been given.  What he discovered is that it is impossible to exhaust the unsearchabe and incomprehensible riches of the cross.

What I want to challenge our church to do is to start seriously thinking about the cross and the work that Jesus accomplished there.  To rejoice in what God has done on our behalf.  To begin to live out what C.J., Mahaney has called the “Cross Centered Life.”  I would love to hear your thoughts about this and what God is showing you about the cross.  I especially would like to hear from some of the men who have been coming to the Tuesday morning Bible study.  What is God saying to you?  What are you learning about the Cross centered life and how are you seeking to live it out?

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on the Cross

  1. Pastor Joe,

    Can you clarify what you mean when you write, “an experiential side of Christianity that was reserved for only the elite?” Specifically, who are the “elite?”

  2. In Colossians 1:18 Paul says, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in details about visions…” The phrase worship of angels has sometimes been taken to mean that the Colossians were actually worshiping angels. But in light of the discoveries at Qumran it is probably better to taken to mean that they were actually seeking to have a vision or to enter into some state of ecstasy where they would actually participate in the worship with the Angels. This was a practice that occurred in Qumran and it is likely that it was also taking place in other regions as well. The elite would have been the people that got to participate in this kind of worship or who had had this experience.

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