Colossians 2:16-23 — Finding Our Confidence
Google the words “be confident” and the results are plentiful. Most have great catchy titles such as, “Three Steps to Confidence” or “Five Practices of Confident People”.
We want to be confident. Instinctively we know that confidence helps us move forward.
I have jokingly said that my motto is “frequently wrong—never in doubt.” Full disclosure requires I tell you I borrowed this from a coworker, but I am confident it applies to me! (Perhaps I confuse over-confidence for confidence.)
Why ask about confidence? Because the text says, not once, but twice, “Let no one...” —let no one what? Take away from you your standing with God.
The letter has focused, very strongly, on the unique Person of Jesus. Consider what you’ve read. For me the language is embellished, and in previous days I have broken it down, bulletized it, and even read it backwards. In some respects, I feel like I have shaken the text to see what falls out as the core meaning. That process has resulted in Jesus standing supreme.
That is author’s intent: that Jesus stand supreme in our lives. Skim chapter one verses 12-21 again. Look at the straight line Paul is drawing for the supremacy of Christ.
This is, in fact, how the people in Colossae have begun—Jesus, and Jesus alone.
However, the secular and religious pressures these folks are under are real. Which is why he writes, “Let no one…” Consider another phrase, “not holding fast…”. The phrase is used for the people who have let go of the fundamentals. They have gone over to all sorts of religious practices. Why? Because other people told them these extra things are required if they want a relationship with God—Jesus and His work on the Cross are not enough—and people believe them.
If Jesus is real—if Jesus is God—if he died and rose again—what else can I (or anyone else) possibly add to this infinite gift?
But people (me included) have this tendency to add things (i.e., our human efforts) to the Cross of Jesus.
Consider the language. “Let no one…” and “not holding fast”—these phrases communicate that keeping our faith requires active energy on our part. To hold onto something implies there is an opposite force trying to take it away. Letting no one mislead you, implies there are people who are, in fact, trying.
The imagery is clear. We must have full confidence in Jesus. And not just for our “religion” but for all of our life. The text tells us what happens when we do not hold fast of the Head. That is Jesus.
Notice the text notes that these things have the appearance of wisdom. Hmm... appearances can get us every time. If we are not confident in the fundamentals, we can add all sorts of things to our lives. In matters of faith, we practice it on Sunday, and then Monday through Saturday we use worldly methods.
The reality of following Jesus is that it is never done; people will try to pull you in all sorts of different directions. People both inside and outside the Church.
Now, you might be thinking, “David, this is nothing new.” You are right. It is not new. The question for me is, “How well am I keeping Jesus the bedrock of my life—all of it?” If he is my bedrock, then I am living a confident life.
Let’s get real for a moment. There are seasons when part, or all, of our lives can be challenging. I have a few parts that are very challenging right now. Truly. How consumed by fret and worry am I? Answer: too much. How confident in Jesus am I? I am not saying that having confidence in Jesus means I think “it will all work out and we will all live happily ever after.” I am not saying that. I am saying (or asking), “Do I have enough confidence in Jesus to not freak out over these challenges, to not allow them to consume me?” Answer: I am working on it.
I will spare you the details. Let me tell you where I find my confidence. I read the Scriptures (I know, it sounds terribly religious). It is where I find the bedrock I need to stay rooted and grounded in Him—in Jesus whom I find in the Scriptures. Yes, I meet him in prayer, worship, and fellowship with other followers—but in those circumstances my human emotions creep in.
On a day when I am on my game, it is in Jesus and His Word is where my confidence lies.