Ever heard the saying “It’s all or nothing!” This perspective says you have to choose in life to be all in oir get all out!
But I wonder how far we can really push this insight. I think there’s something better for those of us who follow Jesus Christ. I prefer “All AND Nothing.” You see, life really is made up of choices and perspectives and priorities. And, to be sure, there are some choices that need to be rejected as less than our best. But the only way to see clearly how to discern when that is in life, I have to have a guiding principle, an icon if you will, of what it is that is the ideal human life. And we humans, unfortunately, have a track record of poor choices when it comes to which icon we are going to follow and emulate. And with that bad choice comes the naturally bad consequences of choosing wrongly.
Look at our lesson today in Colossians 2:1-7 (I’m really loving this insight into this letter):
Brethren, I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with beguiling speech. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Don’t you just love the way Paul says things? I am particularly drawn to his phrase “assured understanding.” You see, these precious Christians in Colosse were too young in the faith to properly discern healthy perspectives and principles. They had believed the Good News of the Resurrected Jesus, and they had embraced the life of a believer, but they hadn’t quite grown up enough to spot the errors in the beautiful words of those who were attempting to capture them in false doctrines.
They hadn’t quite developed enough to understand that they had to constantly choose between all AND nothing.
Paul tells them the key is, as always, Jesus Christ. It is in getting the Person of Jesus right that reveals ALL of Who He is, and gives us the strength to accept NOTHING else. Paul tells these believers that it is their very communion with each other and him, even though he’s never met them, that guards them all against false teachings. And the glue that holds them together; love, provides a powerful antidote to being deluded by bad theology. When we stick together and understand the power of communion with each other AND ALL the faithful who have ever lived, then we are protected from falling for false doctrine. After all, Jesus destroyed mortality, so physical death isn’t able to break the bonds that bind the Church together.
He also teaches them, and us, that this “assured understanding” is completely embodied in Jesus Christ. When my life is focused on Jesus Christ as the Truest Icon of what a human person really is, I am empowered to mine the treasures of Him and learn “wisdom and knowledge.” All too often prideful humans wish to insist they are wise enough and knowledgeable enough without any visible connection to Jesus Christ. St. Paul insists this is not possible. Connection to Jesus is a prerequisite to true wisdom and knowledge.
Paul goes on to tell them that the result of being focused on Jesus Christ leads to both “good order and firmness” of faith. Doesn’t our current day just scream out for some solid ground to build a life on? With all the so called “freedom” of our society, it seems that confusion and even downright delusion is the norm. Our children deserve a solid foundation on which to build their futures, and that can’t happen without the “assured understanding” of Jesus Christ.
Today, are you “rooted and built up” in Jesus Christ? Is your life marked with “thanksgiving” for the solid foundation that a focused life on Jesus Christ provides? Such spiritual treasures are right now, this very day, available to you so that your life can embrace the All AND Nothing of being Orthodox on Purpose!