This past Sunday evening, I challenged the assembly to listen for the words “in him” or “with him” as I read Colossians 2:6-15. Those phrases reverberate through the passage, confirming the Christian’s dependence on Christ, in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” and yet was raised from the dead by God. Christ, in other words was both deity and human. We all learned about Christ from teachers or directly from reading the Bible. Many of the first readers (or hearers) Colossians had heard the message from a man named Epaphras, who apparently was with Paul when he wrote the letter (Colossians 1:7). Having met Epaphras, Paul could write confidently, “as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught , abounding in thanks giving” (Colossians 2:6-7). All authority rests in him in whom Christians have been filled. In Deuteronomy 10, Moses envisions a time when God’s people will “circumcise the foreskins of [their] hearts.” Jeremiah does also in Jeremiah 4:4. In Colossians 2, Paul writes that Christians
“were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12).
In him and with him, we gain salvation through the powerful working of God the Father. Because the Colossians who received this letter were in Christ, Paul could thank God for their faith and the fruit that was increasing for God through their obedience. These verses remind us that we have hope through God in Christ, and that when we submit to God by confessing our faith in baptism, it is God’s power that saves us and not our merit. I encourage you, too, to read these verses from Colossians aloud, emphasizing the words “in him” and “with him.” Consider the blessings that we may have in Christ and thank God for his love.
In Christ, O God of covenant, you fulfilled your plan for redeeming humanity. In Christ we gain a sense of your dream for us. With Christ, we arise to new life after being buried in baptism’s watery grave. In Christ, we gain hope. We walk on the trail he has blazed; we march in triumphal procession with him because you, our God, triumphed in him. His suffering teaches us that the path to salvation does not lead through prosperity, but through obedience. In him, we learn to trust and to pray with confidence in his name. Thank you, Father, in Jesus’s name, amen.
(Biblical quotations are from English Standard Version)