Jesus Is The Way
People have been asking one big question for thousands of years: How many ways are there to God? While under house arrest in the year 62 AD Paul, a citizen of Rome, wrote a letter to a small group of people in the ancient city of Colosse to answer that very question.
Colossians is a tiny little book that packs a mighty big punch. It speaks with such power it’s almost too much to read in one sitting. But Paul wrote this letter to be an arrow that aims straight for the heart. These words had to pierce through the confusion of a group of people who loved God and served Christ, but whose hearts had become crowded with too many things.
The believers of Colosse were struggling with syncretism. They’d begun to fold false pagan beliefs, mystical Jewish traditions and humanistic ideas together into their faith in Christ. Surprisingly Paul does not outright scold them about this, but instead takes them aside and points out the One Way so clearly that all other possibilities practically dissolve. He paints a breathtaking picture of what true Christianity really is so they won’t get confused by the many counterfeits. He takes them up on a mountain top to look out over the vista of belief. “Look!” He says, “What do you see?”
All over the world the gospel is spreading like wildfire, transforming people’s lives! (1:6)
The gospel rescues people from “the dominion of darkness” and transfers them into the Kingdom of light! (1:12-13)
The gospel is the first Way, the real Way, the only Way to find hope that will never die. (1:16-17)
He points them back to their target. He shows them their true north. He warns them that pure Christianity is so explosive, it will radically change everything. But of course we could always play it safe and cosy up with the counterfeits.
The key to aiming our own lives to be piercingly on target Paul says, is to realize that the fullness of all spiritual riches rests not on a philosophy, or a sect, or culture, but in a Person; God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we reach and search too, just like this little church in Colosse did. There are so many philosophies, ideas and beliefs out on the horizon. Maybe there are times when the Way seems too simple, too narrow, or too unrealistic to make a difference in our everyday lives. But we’d be wrong. Jesus came to make everything different. He didn’t come to give us a system to follow for personal growth or a strategy to implement for a successful life. There are plenty of those. He came to give us so very much more than one of many good ways to live. He came to give us Himself. And in the giving He whispers deep down inside our hearts, “Come, follow Me.”
Because there is no other Way.
Oh, yes, there’s lots of ways, but only one Way.
And somehow, for us, it’s the simple act of following that transforms everything else.
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given the fullness of Christ, who is the head over very power and authority.” (2:9)
And yet, there are many things that sidetrack us from our target of Christ being formed inside us. Paul lists a couple:
- The way we do worship: What festivals you celebrate, whether pagan or Jewish; what denomination you’re a part of. Do you lift your hands or not? Are you traditional or contemporary? (2:16)
- “These are shadows of the things that were to come; the reality however is found in Christ.” (2:17)
- It’s not the expression of our worship that keeps us on target, its the heart of our worship.
- The way we do warfare: Spiritual warfare, cultural battles, politics, angels and demons, methods and wording, what to fight for and what to let go. The list goes on and on of things we might get all stirred up about… (2:18).
- “Such a person goes into great detail …and is puffed up with idle notions.” (2:18)
- Its not quite as much how we battle that keeps us on target but who we battle: our battle is not against flesh and blood.
Paul says there are many beliefs that have the “appearance of wisdom” but lack the power of the gospel. How can we tell the difference? The gospel is the very power of heaven invading earth; it births a radical transformation from death into life inside us and turns our sin-sick souls from leading ourselves to following Him. Gospel people become different. Maybe even a little strange…
Gospel people see themselves differently. We are hidden in Christ. Our lives are not our own! (3:3-4) That makes us do weird things like move into a sketchy neighborhood to reach the lost. Or give away more than we keep for ourselves.
Gospel people think differently. We are to put to death the works of the flesh and live consumed with heaven, not the trappings and snares of hell. (God graciously roots out anger, slander, malice, dirty talk, lust, greed that binds us up. 3:5-8)
Gospel people look differently. We should strive to be honest, open with each other, humble, and united. (3:9-11)
Gospel people act differently. We are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (3:12-13)
Gospel people love differently. Love binds us together, attracts the world to Christ and guides every step we take. It is not something we say. It is something we do. (3:14)
Gospel people speak differently. Our words are to overflow out of the peace and thanksgiving of Christ inside us. Because He is reshaping our hearts and that is transforming our lives.
All of this “different” flows from somewhere deep down inside that has been made different. And that is the power of the gospel. It is found in a Person. Not a place. Not a thing.
Jesus Christ, Son of God, is the One and only Way to God. And He transforms us from the inside, out.
May your eyes ever stay fixed on the Target of our souls, God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.