22–28 April 2018.
A few years ago, a church pastor excitedly came to me and told me that there was an old man here in Taiwan who had the gift of prophecy and speaking revelations. This church pastor was planning a trip for himself and his church elders to go visit the man. The pastor was so excited to hear what prophecies that old man would speak, and what revelations he would share. I have to say this made me deeply, deeply worried.
Of course, many of us are fascinated by magical things, and even in the church many people are tempted by the idea of these types of so-called supernatural or spiritual powers. This fascination is nothing new. Back in the early days of the church many Christians were also attracted by these ideas. But in Paul’s letter to the Colossians we see an important warning against this problem.
Paul is incredibly worried and even angry because the believers in Colossae had turned away from Christ and were searching for other mystical ways to know God. They were looking for other philosophies, other teachers, and even seeking mystical experiences with angels and spirits in the hope that they could gain more knowledge about God. Those church members didn’t think this was a problem, but Paul warns them that by doing this they are turning away from Jesus. By searching for other mystical revelations and prophecies, what those church members in Colossae were really doing was saying that Jesus alone just wasn’t good enough. For them, Jesus had become just one teacher among many, or just one more prophet like many others. But this attitude is profoundly wrong.
All through the letter to the Colossians Paul stresses again and again the absolute supremacy and completeness of Christ and his gospel. In Christ we see the fullness of God’s nature, the fullness of God’s presence and power, and the fullness of God’s good news. So when we turn to someone other than Christ to know God, what we are doing is proclaiming to the whole world that Christ really isn’t good enough for us, that Christ truly isn’t God, and that Christ is not the complete and perfect revelation of God. If we aren’t happy with Christ, we proclaim that Christ is not the one Way, one Truth, and one Life. So no wonder Paul is horrified!
In vv. 15–20, Paul gives us a beautiful and incredible hymn on the absolute supremacy of Christ, stressing over and over that Christ is fully and completely God, that Christ is the eternal Ruler and Lord of all things, the one who rules over all creation. In Jesus Christ we see the absolute fullness of God (v. 19). So to turn away from Jesus and attempt to know God through other means, other teachings, or other so-called prophets is to turn our backs on God himself. Whenever we turn to other people to know God – regardless of whether that’s Moses, Solomon, or modern-day people claiming to be prophets – what we are doing is turning our eyes away from Jesus and telling Jesus that he just isn’t good enough for us.
As Christians, that’s something we should never ever do. As Christians we are called to keep our eyes firmly on Jesus, to listen to him, to learn from him, and to follow him. Why? Because Jesus Christ is completely God, completely true, and he alone is our eternal Saviour and Lord.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis