“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6–7)
How would you describe the Christian life?
As an answer, you probably couldn’t do much better than verses 6 and 7 of Colossians chapter 2. In those two verses, Paul gives us a wonderful description of the way to start and grow in following Jesus.
First of all, starting and growing as a Christian is the same thing. To be a Christian is to receive Jesus and live with Jesus as Lord. Everything is about Jesus. You don’t start being a Christian with Jesus and then graduate to something else. Nor do you start in one direction and then turn toward Jesus later. Everything about living as a Christian is about receiving and living for Jesus.
At the same time, we don’t stand still as Christians either. We are expected to grow, develop and mature. The method remains the same, but we never remain the same as disciples, we are always growing. Paul says just as you received …continue to grow.
Paul uses the picture of a thriving plant: rooted and built up, strengthened and overflowing. It’s an image of a tall and healthy tree, which is planted solidly in good soil and near water, filled with nutrients and producing fruit, able to stand against the wind and the rain. Strength and health should mark out the Christian’s life, for us as individuals and for Christian churches and communities. Continued and developing strength and health is all part of what Christian life is about.
Additionally this continued life and health should also have an effect. We might consider many different things an effect of spiritual health and wellbeing. Do you know your Bible better? Is your community busy with activities? Is your church growing in numbers? Those might all be true and they certainly aren’t bad things. But Paul has another thing in mind.
The effect of spiritual life and health, according to Paul in Colossians 2, is that we are “overflowing with thankfulness.” I wonder if you have considered that? The effect of the gospel being grasped and the gospel growing in and among us is that we grow more and more in thankfulness. This isn’t just being thankfully, although that’s certainly part of it, but it is overflowing with thankfulness. We are marked by being a community that is filled up with thankfulness and where our gratitude is uncontainable. We aren’t just thankful people, we cannot stop being thankful people - it just flows out of us as a natural effect.
Is this a description of you? Is it a description of me? I have to confess that it very often isn’t an accurate picture of who I am. Will you join with me in asking our generous God to help us grow in health and strength, rooted in Jesus, so that we become more and more marked by thankfulness?