KEY THOT: The expression “in him” is used eight times in Colossians. Six are found in today’s lectionary text, Colossians 2:6-15. The following are the contexts for being “in him”:
- “walk in him” (v.6): Firstly, having received Christ as our Lord, we are no longer to do things our ways but to “walk in him”--to do things his ways. In other words, He is now our Source and our Goal—the "Author and Perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). We are to depend on him for our every effort and every decision. Not only are we to be “in Him”, He must also be “in us” in all that we think, do and say.
- “rooted and built up in him” (v.7): We are also to grow in him. To do so, our roots must be firmly planted in Christ by growing in our knowledge of him through the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. (NOTE: The Navigators have a series of discipleship training study called the "2:7 series" which is based on this verse in Colossians 2:7).
- “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells” (v.9): The reason for rooting and building up our lives in Christ is so that in him we may have the fullness of God. To have Christ in us is to have God in us. To live in Christ and walk in Christ is the only way to experience the fullness of God in our lives.
- "you have been filled in him” (v.10): Paul asserts the truth that we are filled in him when we acknowledge him as “the head of all rule and authority” (v.10). When we received Christ as Lord, we submit to his rule and authority in our lives. When we live in submission and obedience to Christ, we become filled with Christ's fullness through the Holy Spirit. The only way we can be filled with the Spirit as an on-going experience is to acknowledge his rule and authority over us.
- “In him also you were circumcised…by the circumcision of Christ” (v.11): Furthermore, when we were circumcised by Christ in baptism, our old sinful flesh has been cut off, so that we are now raised with the new Christ-like nature. Therefore, with this new nature, we are to practise daily walking in Him so that we might be become like Christ. It’s a daily decision of surrender and submission to Christ as Lord so that this new nature imputed to us through faith may become the second nature in us through obedience.
- “triumphing over them in him” (v.15): Finally, we triumph over all the forces of darkness in him because at the cross, Jesus has canceled our debts according to the law’s demands and “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame” (v.15). So, as long as we are in him, the powers of darkness can do nothing to us because they have been disarmed.
But it's not enough just to have the right doctrine (orthodoxy); we must have the right practice (orthopraxis) by continuing our "walk in him". Orthodoxy without orthopraxis is dead; orthopraxis without orthodoxy is dangerous. If we are to become like Christ, then we need to be rooted firmly in God's truth. Otherwise, we may be easily deceived and held captive by the worldly philosophies rooted in the "elemental spirits of the world" (v.8) --coming through even our pulpits. The teaching may sound Christian but its roots are not in Christ but in the world. Such ungodly worldviews disguised as Christian truths will undermine our victory and freedom in Christ.
Father, help us grow in Christ, so that our lives may be rooted in Christ and filled to the fullness with Christ in all we do, think and say. Amen.