Summary: Paul reminds the Christians to stay focused on who we really are and the true gospel that gives them hope, that they originally believed in, because they are sidetracked by the heresy of the Gnostic gospel.
The other day Christy, my six-year-old, looked for me in the house calling “Daddy, where are you?” I said, “I am here in the basement.” She came down to the basement and as she approached me she said, “Well, I forgot why I came down to tell you.” She thought for a long while and couldn’t remember. I looked at her with surprise, but I also feel encouraged.
You know that I tend to forget things and get sidetracked by another task while doing one. Each time I had that kind of short term memory lost, I thought I was getting old. But seeing a six-year-old forgetting thing like that, I just feel comforted. Maybe I am not really old; maybe I am just getting younger!
In fact we forget things because we lose focus, and get sidetracked by other things around us.
In today’s scripture lesson, Paul reminds the Christians to stay focused on who we really are and the true gospel that gives them hope, that they originally believed in, because they are sidetracked by the heresy of the Gnostic gospel. You know that the heresy of the Gnostic gospel that they were taught by a false teacher was not just in the first or second century. It recurs every now and then. In our days, it came to us powerfully as the book, “the Davici Code”. So Paul’s letter to the Colossians is very relevant to us today because many Christians, who are not spiritually mature, have been taken in by today’s version of the Gnostic gospel. Paul reminds the Christians not to forget who they are and what the true Gospel is so that they will keep on living out the transformed life rather than sinking back to the former life.
There is a Native American story of a farmer who found an eagle’s egg and put it into the nest of a farm chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All its life, the eagle, thinking it was a chicken, did what the chickens did. It scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. It clucked and cackled. And it flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how farm chickens were supposed to fly.
Years passed, and the eagle grew very old. One day, it saw a magnificent bird far above in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. "What a beautiful bird!" said the eagle to its neighbor. "What is it?"
"That’s an eagle - the chief of the birds," the neighbor clucked. "But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him." So the eagle never gave it a second thought and it died thinking it was a farm chicken.
Isn’t that a sad story? Paul was writing to the Christians in Colossae who have been duped by some false teacher telling them that they were farm chickens not eagles. Unlike the story, Christians are not the eagles that were hatched from eagles’ eggs, but they were transformed from chicken to eagle by the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Maybe using the image of caterpillar and butterflies would describe it better. Christians are butterflies transformed from a caterpillar through its death in the cocoon, and resurrection out of the cocoon, but what Paul is dealing here is that a group of Christians or Butterflies that are crawling like a caterpillar because some false teacher came and told them that you are caterpillars not butterflies.
How do we know that we are butterflies, or eagles? As human beings, we don’t have any special wings that look different from others. What is the symbol of a life that is transformed by Jesus Christ? It is hope. Hope is our wings. In 1:23 Paul says tells us not to shift from the hope promised by the gospel. The symbol that distinguishes a Christian and a non-Christian is their hope. Of course a Christian can forget about their hope and behave like a non-Christian, just like an eagle running like chickens.
In this morning passage, Paul gives some important instructions for the eagles to fly like eagles rather than running like turkeys. We will look at the three most important ones.
1 – Seek the things that are above
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
The word for seek in Greek is zeteite, which means put your heart on. So it literally means put your heart on the things that are above. What is that place above? “Where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” The place above, where Christ is, is, to simply put, the kingdom of God.