“See to it that no-one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition.” (Colossians 6:8)
We are happy to let God take complete care of our salvation, and that is right and good. We acknowledge we have sinned and will continue to be led astray by sin, but we know Jesus’ death and resurrection is enough to wash all those sins away so we can be reconciled to the God of love. We know God’s gift of eternal life is securely ours.
We are less content to let God take control of the rest of our lives. We never seem to be happy with who we are and how we live. There is an astonishing array of self-help books and social media streams available today that promise to make our lives better. They tell us how our lives can have more purpose, be less cluttered, be more productive, generate more wealth, generate more happiness, be more empathetic, or just tell us how we can be the best version of ourselves. This is not a new trend. Philosophers from as long ago as ancient Greece looked at how we might live better lives if only we used our own powers of reason to rein in our base desires and emotions.
In today’s reading, Paul warns the Colossians that the path to a good life does not come from any of these sources. As well-intentioned as authors and influencers might be, there is not some secret knowledge in human philosophy and tradition that makes our lives complete. We are wasting our time if we look there.
Instead, Paul tells the Colossians — and also tells us — that we should live our lives rooted in Christ. Jesus Christ is not just our Saviour but also our teacher, guide, shepherd and leader. Jesus promises a heavenly kingdom of justice, peace and love for each other, here and now in our daily lives, and he invites us to follow him into that kingdom.
Loving God, empty our minds and hearts of the empty promises of this world that focus our attention on self-centred wealth, fame and power. Instead, fill us with the heart and mind of Jesus, loving you, loving each other and loving all your creation. Amen.