We are doing a series in the evenings where I’m going through Colossians a chapter at a time and I AM LOVING IT! Why not plan to get along to Ivy Didsbury and dig into this fantastic letter further soon? If you really can’t – I bet you’d get a lot out of the podcasts which are free at www.ivymanchester.org
I’ve called the series INSIDE -OUT
Principally that’s because Paul was INSIDE, writing OUT to the church a Colosse. He was in prison. He wrote various letters while he was in prison, some to churches he founded – and this one to a church he didn’t found but it was a kind of church plant started by a man called Ephaphras who Paul led to follow Christ then sent home to start a church in his home city.
One day Ephapras visited him in prison and gave the low down on things in Colosse. The church had started out really well and grown fast. BUT there were problems. Big concerns about one or two voices in the church that were trying to drag people away from simple devotion to Jesus.
We don’t know how many of these teachers there were, it may have just been one powerful, super-spiritual, deeeeply persuasive voice that was saying to be a real Christian, you had to learn ‘the philosophy…’ – a system of inner secrets for the Deeper Life.
Read Col 2:1-5
This talks about ‘persuasive words’ that can deceive us.
Discuss: How do we go deep, without going under? What I mean is, how do you strike a healthy balance as a Christian between wanting to study and grow, without becoming super-spiritual?
Three big words summed up ‘The Philosophy’ – three isms in the ‘religious self improvement plan.’
These three things are very much still dangers for churches to take on…
Legalism, Asceticism and Mysticism.
Discuss – how do you define these words and how might they become a danger for Christians?
My definitions of the three- (NB the practices themselves might not necessarily be wrong, it’s the heart intention that matters)
Legalism – do the right things. (Restrict Yourself) – included Circumcision
Asceticism – don’t do some things (Deny Yourself) – included fasting
Mysticism – (Exalt Yourself) – the way the mysticism worked at Colosse was that some wanted a few to add on learning some deep, deep things – so as to become the TRUE disciples. The spiritual masters. This would create an ‘inner circle’ within the church.
If the Leader has time, please read my previous blog post to this – CS Lewis’ address on ‘The Inner Ring.’
How do we guard against cliques forming in church?
Read Col 2:6-11
Paul here lists some marks of true maturity – and it’s not about some supposed spiritual experience, but about walking IN HIM.
Go through now down to verse 13 and notice how many times Paul uses the term IN HIM or IN CHRIST (his favourite way to describe being a Christian) in this chapter.
Underline them if you like to remind you of its importance. It seems it’s possible to be ‘In Christ’ but not maturing!
DISCUSS: What kind of thing would Paul list as evidences of truly maturing?
Leader’s hint: I included Encouragement, Loving Unity, Keeping in Order, Steadfastness, and being Grounded, Growing and Grateful.
As NT Wright says in his brilliant book ‘Paul for everyone; Prison Letters’
Christianity isn’t simply about a way of being religious. It isn’t about a particular system for being saved here or hereafter, it’s not about a particular way to be holy…Christianity is about Jesus Christ.
DISCUSS: Why don’t people have the right idea about Christianity?
Whatever your list of ‘Marks of Maturity’ ended up pulling out, get everyone to rate themselves 1 -10 right now on them.
Would the people who know you well say you’re becoming more like Jesus in that area now than you were a year ago?
You are COMPLETE in Him! Pray that each person in your GG walks out in their every day life what this means, that Jesus is ALL of God, and He is ALL in you and he FILLS you completely with His love now. God wants what happened to Jesus to happen to you.
If you died with him (became his follower)
You will live forever with him – starting now – and that will never end. Rejoice!
Christianity isn’t prideful philosophical, theoretical knowledge to teach another about; ‘you have to know what I know.’
It’s humble grateful relational and invitational – ‘come and meet the One who knows all about me and loves me’ – like the Samaritan woman discovered in John 4.
Commit to Pray for three people who need to come to know the One you know, that before the end of 2012, maybe at one of our Christmas events – they get to know the One we know.