God never saves us for isolation––he saves us for community. In a world divided along every line imaginable, Jesus is truly unique. He brings together people from wildly different cultures, backgrounds, languages and ethnicities to form a relational network called the church, God’s family, the body of Christ. It means none of us is ever truly alone, and we have a good and loving leader we can look to for guidance no matter what’s going on.
1. Jesus’ work is finished
- The Colossians were part of a group of early followers of Jesus who were worried that they had to “add” something to their faith. Did they need to earn righteousness by the law, or by circumcision? Was there something else they had to do? Paul opens this section by reminding the Colossians that the work of Jesus is finished, so he has made us righteous apart from anything we can do or add.
- Paul speaks of a “circumcision made without hands.” He’s referencing the ancient Jewish tradition of circumcision, in which all males were circumcised on the eighth day after birth, as a sign that they were set apart for God. In the prophetic books of the Bible, we read that God is more concerned with the “circumcision of the heart,” the removal of what is holding us back spiritually from walking with God.
- Here, in Colossians 2, Paul is saying that ancient circumcision was a picture of what was to come: the work of Jesus accomplished redemption for all humanity, so that even our hearts can be set apart to God.
Describe what Jesus’ work in your life has looked like. Is there any area where you live like his work isn’t finished? What are you trying to add to Jesus’ work in your life?
2. Jesus is the head of the body
- Paul is bringing up something that is very important to the church at Colossae because they were wading their way through heresies, false versions of the gospel, and they had lots of differing beliefs about what Christianity should look like. They didn’t have the Bible yet! So Paul reminds them that Jesus is one God––he’s THE God!––and so any other version of God can’t be the one the Christian church worships.
- How do we make sure Jesus stays in his central place as head of the body? Our job is to hold fast to Jesus. We hold fast to the head, which holds the whole body together. We will grow up in the things of God when we abide in Jesus and stay in his Word.
- When we are under the headship of Jesus, we are automatically part of the body of believers, the church. We cannot be isolated. We need the other believers around us to constantly remind us of who Jesus is and point us back to him.
Are you allowing Jesus to lead your life? Is there anything else you are allowing to lead your life? What does that look like?
3. Leave legalism behind
- Our spirituality is entirely based upon who Jesus is. All the things we bicker over are based on things that are temporary and seem important, but nothing compares to knowing who Jesus is in Spirit and truth. Our job is to trust him.
- This is a broader way of getting at a similar issue to living like Jesus’ work is finished. Maybe we confess that his work is finished, but we’ve grown obsessed with trying to do things perfectly. This is the mindset that Paul is trying to help the Colossians get past.
- In order to live the full life that Jesus offer us, we need to believe that he is enough for us. We need to believe that his sacrifice for us truly paid for our sin. We need to believe that life with him is more important than anything the world could offer. We do that by falling more in love with him every day.
What is the opposite of walking in legalism? How can you leave legalism behind today?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?