Summary: Overview of Colossians and its explanation of the Christ-like life.
Colossians: The Secret of True Spirituality
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: Janet loves the Lord. She is active in her church. She works hard at trying to do what’s right. But she still struggles. She wonders if she is doing everything she should. One day two young men dressed in white shirts and riding bicycles knock on her door to offer some free religious literature. They tell her that their books and classes will provide answer sto all the questions she has. Their church knows the secret that no other religious group knows. Janet is curious. She wants to know the secret.
John also sometimes wonders if there isn’t something missing. In fact, even his Sunday School class at his church has had several debates recently along those lines. Some in the class have recently discovered the writings of a popular Bible teacher who promotes fasting and a special kind of prayer as spiritual warfare. They insist that these practices are the secret to spiritual victory.
Some of Susie’s friends have also discovered the secret. They just returned from a popular religious conference. For three days, they laughed. They cried. They were exposed to new forms of worship. The nationally known conference speaker addressed the causes of conflict in families and youth. Susie’s friends said it was all so much more practical than the plain old Bible lessons they were accustomed to. Had they discovered the secret?
Bill is a young Christian who still struggles with some of his old temptations. He began to wonder if he would ever be free of the old yearnings. Then a girl he met in his psych class invited him to a Bible study. Before the evening was over, the whole group was praying that Bill would be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” When that happens, they assured him, he would speak in tongues and all his spiritual struggles would be over. Could that be the secret?
Some of Hollywood’s most famous stars claim to have found the secret. Celebrities like Demi Moore, Britney Spears, and even Madonna are regulars at a former church building in Beverly Hills. Every Friday a large group of Tinsel Town’s A-List stars gather at the L. A. Kabbalah Center. They sing loud, fast-paced hymns and shout hearty “amens!” The gathering is not an old fashioned revival meeting. In fact, it is not a Christian gathering. Kabbalah is a form of medieval Jewish mysticism. Kabbalah claims to offer the secret to spiritual enlightenment. It involves emotionally charged rituals, meditation that is supposed to produce visions and trance-like experiences, and a deeper spirituality. Kabbalah provides the secret to connecting with one spirituality. Once this connection is made outside behavior and secular involvements no longer matter. Kabbalah promises a more intense, secret spirituality without having to give up the world. No wonder Madonna likes it so much!
Is there a secret to spiritual power? A path to God that is unknown to most churches? Maybe some church leaders know the secret, but their job is to keep others from discovering it lest it become corrupted or misunderstood. That’s the plot of the incredibly popular book and the recent movie (directed by Ron Howard) based on the book. The Da Vinci Code claims to be a novel, but under the guise of a who-dun-it style mystery, Dan Brown’s bestseller raises questions about the historical reliability of the Bible and the normally understood message of the Christian faith.
The Da Vinci Code reveals the story of the super-secret Society of Zion that has kept the true story of Jesus under wraps for nearly fifteen hundred years. According to the plot, if the conspiracy is ever revealed the Christian faith would be shaken to its roots. The secret, according to the Da Vinci Code, includes the fact that Jesus didn’t die on the cross. Instead he marries Mary Magdalene, fathers several children, and moves to France. There he reveals to his wife and children the true secrets of spiritual power. The fictional story revolves around the struggles between the insiders and those who want to let the secret out. Rest assured the allegations of the Da Vinci Code are neither new nor secret. None the less, the suggestion of an alleged secret truth about Jesus has been enough to sell millions of books in dozens of languages. Everybody, it seems, wants to believe there is a secret.
This brings us to our next book in our journey through the Bible. Colossians is one of the shorter books the New Testament. It contains only four short chapters, ninety-five verses total. Paul had never been to the ten year old Colossae church. Apparently Epaphras, one of his students from his Ephesus ministry, had planted the church. Listen to how Paul speaks of this Christian servant. “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit” (1:6-8). Toward the end of the book he adds, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis” (4:12-13).