Summary: In part five of a six-week series on the book of Colossians Dave considers chapter 2, verses 18-23. We are challenged to allow rules and disciplines in the spiritual life to guide us but not to forget that they are meant to point to Christ, not to serve

Respecting Discipline

Colossians 2:18-23

May 21, 2006

David Flowers

Wildwind Community Church

My girls are taking final exams in school right now as the school year comes to a close. I got to thinking about tests this week. Most of the time on a test, for each item, there is one correct answer, and several incorrect answers. But think about this: the correct answer is determined by what the question is, right? If the question is, “Who wrote the book of Colossians?” the answer is “Paul.” That answer is only correct because of what the question is. That same answer “Paul,” will be an incorrect answer to most questions in the world that could be asked – you can think of a million questions that do not have “Paul” as a correct response. But if the question is who wrote Colossians, the answer is Paul. If the question is who wrote Corinthians, the answer is also Paul. If the question is who wrote 1/3 of the New Testament, the answer again is Paul. If the question is, “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” the correct answer is not “Paul,” it is Grant. The correct answer is determined by the question.

For any given correct answer, there are an infinite number of ways to be wrong, because no answer is correct in itself. Answers can only be correct when they are paired with the proper questions.

Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Now if your question is where can I find a place that makes a good patty melt at 2 in the morning, this passage won’t help you. If your question is where’s the party, this won’t help you. But for those who might be asking the question can I know the right spiritual path to take, this will start to get you to the right place. Jesus says it plain as day. The path to life is narrow – it’s not very big. Only a few people will find it, not because it’s hidden from sight, but because most people will refuse to see. The path to destruction is wide – many people will follow that way. When it comes to finding true spiritual life, there is one correct answer, and an infinite number of incorrect answers. The path to life is narrow – it’s easy to miss. You have to be really looking for it if you’re going to find it.

So we’re going along in life going, “Narrow path – narrow path. I’m looking for the narrow path – the one most people aren’t taking – the road less traveled – because according to Jesus, that’s the one that will lead to life.” And then that brings up more questions. What does this path look like? How do I get on this path? Then you may remember what Jesus said in John 14:6 – I am the way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father except through me.

So Jesus said “The way that leads to life is narrow and only a few find it.” And he said “I am the way.” How will I recognize the way? Because it’s the way most other people won’t be taking. What is, or who is, the way? Jesus.

This fact is what Paul understood when he wrote Colossians. Paul wrote Colossians to say, “The way is narrow, folks. Not everyone is gonna take the right path. Not all roads lead to the same destination. Not all religions and beliefs lead to the same god. Not all belief systems bear good fruit in the lives of their adherents." Paul writes to the Colossians to say, “Open your eyes and keep them opened to this fact – the path called Jesus Christ is the only way that you will ultimately see God.” Chapter 2 is especially about all that.

The answer is not to be found in any religious system. The answer is not in Hinduism, it’s in Jesus. The answer is not in Buddhism, it’s in Jesus. The answer is not in Islam, it’s in Jesus. And folks, the answer is not in Christianity, either, it’s in Jesus. Christianity is a religious system, as empty and hollow as all other religious systems. Because people can call themselves Christians, and meticulously follow every single rule in the Christian religion all their lives and if they have not thrown themselves upon the mercy and grace of Jesus, they will die in their sins like everybody else. There is no religious system that will save us. Only Jesus can do that, and that’s what Paul writes about in Colossians.

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