Archive for the ‘Colossians’ Category

Enjoy the wonder

December 18th, 2017 by Maureen

He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kings, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. Col. 1:15-16

C.S. Lewis wrote “In our world, too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.” The very idea of Emmanuel-God-with-us is jaw-dropping, inexplicable, amazing, mysterious, and thrilling. Miracles aren’t there for explanation or analysis. Just enjoy the wonder.

Lord, You really are wonderful.

Divine R & R

November 27th, 2017 by Maureen

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. For through Him God created everything in the heavenly realm and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see- Col. 1:15-16

Here, in the part of creation we can see, we humans may only be able to comprehend a fraction of the story of how His creation came to be breaking apart. We can see evidence of brokenness in us and around us. We can also see strands of Christ’s image in love, beauty and kindness in us and around us. The Christ child’s arrival in Bethlehem is predicated on a divine mission to repair and restore His creation. Through Christ the invisible Godhead becomes visible in all His peace and goodwill toward us. His transforming repair and restoration is not to make us something other than ourselves so that He can love us, but to bring us to the selves He created because He does love us.

Lord, thank you for the repair and restoration You are making on this small piece of creation I call a life.

Colossians, that’s a wrap

July 19th, 2017 by Maureen

Tychicus…will tell you all the news of me…and encourage your hearts. With him is Onesimus, who is one of you; Aristarchus…Mark…Epaphras, Luke, and Demas send greetings…Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, to Nympha, to the church that meets at her house, and tell Archippus to “Complete* the ministry** you have received*** from the Lord.” Grace out from jail – Paul. Col. 4:7-18

The inter-connectivity of the body of Christ is reemphasized in the closing of this letter with a flurry of greetings and encouragements. We don’t know a lot about most of the people mentioned. Archippus is also mentioned in the letter to Philemon. Paul is encouraging Archippus about internalizing and embracing the way that Christ is serving others through him. We all need encouraging friends in our lives who recognize Christ-in-us as He is manifested through our unique passions, purposes, and contributions and who encourage our responses and growth as His children. We need reminders that we are not alone in living that out, but in Christ together with others.

Lord, in You I live and move and have my being, in You I discover identity and meaning and connection. May I receive and communicate this reality as my true self.

*plēroō tr. “complete” also means “to make full, to abound; to carry through to the end”
**diakonia tr. “ministry” means “those who execute the commands of others; waiting at table)
***paralambanō tr. “received” also means “to take with one’s self; to accept or acknowledge one as he professed to be; to to receive with the mind; to receive something transmitted”

Is continual prayer even possible?

July 17th, 2017 by Maureen

Continue in pray, stay awake and alert* in it with thanksgiving. Col. 4:2

Continual prayer is an impossible ask if we view God as an idea that fits neatly into one of the many compartments in our lives and prayer as a conscious exercise we do in that compartment. Continual prayer becomes a state of being if we view God as the Life within which all our lives (and all their compartments) are contained. Prayer then becomes both conscious communication and unconscious awareness of God. Conscious prayer still matters. Conscious conversation with God makes the relationship tangible for us.  We need to be able to consciously express our joys, hopes, fears, sorrows, and desires to God and ask for His help. We need the catharsis prayer can provide. Only God knows how intercession works, but our conscious prayers for the good of others shines some positive and helpful light into their lives. Conscious prayer simply punctuates the experience of being in Him all the time.

Lord, You know but I’m still telling you.

γρηγορέω grēgoreō tr. “vigilant or watchful” literally means “awake or stay awake”

The art of receiving

July 16th, 2017 by Maureen

Know that you receive* the recompense for the inheritance** for the Lord Jesus Christ you serve. Col. 3:24

Receiving is a reciprocal experience. With an inheritance, we don’t get to choose whether or not the inheritance is ours nor do we get to choose what it is that we inherit; we only get to whether we receive it. We don’t get to earn our status as children of God; our adoption is something wrought in God’s deep love for His human creation. Humans often choose not to receive this inheritance, demand a way to earn it, or seek to redefine what it is and what it means. Perhaps the church’s historical emphasis on our unworthiness and demand for works as proof of faith makes it harder for us to fully receive the inheritance and to fully experience the child-of-God status.  Perhaps the idea of reward or recompense has less to do with what we do and more with who we are and Who Christ Is. Perhaps receiving is simpler than we made it. Perhaps the art of receiving is as simple opening our hearts, our minds, and our hands to God in us, with us, and for us.

Lord, help me to fully and openly receive all You have for me.

ἀπολαμβάνω apolambanō tr. “receive” also means “to receive from another, to recover, to take what is one’s due, to convey hospitality, to intercept”

κληρονομία kléronomia tr. “inheritance, heir status, a lot, a share”



What are you doing? How are you doing it? Why are you doing it?

July 15th, 2017 by Maureen

Whatever you do*, do** it as if you are working for*** God, not man.
Whatever you bring into existence*, commit** your heart and soul to it, as*** God not humankind. Col. 3:23

What? In this verse there are two words translated “do” and they both mean “work” but in different senses. The first “do” refers to human creativity and productivity, in other words, the work and the end product or result from that work. Work isn’t just our vocations. It’s everything we do.
How? The second “do” refers to effort, attitude, follow through, and resulting profit. The attitude with which we approach what we do affects what we get out of it and its positive effect on the world.
Why? Monetary gain, personal pride, status, or power can be great results but often prove corrupting as motivations. So what are we working for? Colossians theme is that we aren’t doing anything for God because being in Christ is sufficient. Perhaps we are makers because we are made in God’s image and God is a maker. Perhaps our doings are ways we get to enjoy God’s infinite creativity expressed uniquely through each of us. Perhaps the dynamic, purposeful, interdependence in God’s natural creation is reflected in our interconnected social microcosms. Perhaps our doings are more ways we get to experience together the love and grace of Christ in us.

Lord, inspire me in all I do, in how I do it, and in why I do it.

*ποιέω poieō tr. “do” means “work in the sense of create, produce, make, perform”
**ἐργάζομαι ergazomai tr. “do” means “work, labor, commit, perform, acquire by labor, engage, do business”
***ὡς hós often tr. “for” means “whereof, like, like as, even as, affected, just like, same way, through, where, while.” The word “for” is not part of the literal translation, it’s inserted by translators.

Eventually we were going to get to this one…

July 13th, 2017 by Maureen

Wives obey your husbands. Husbands love your wives…children, obey your parents,…fathers, do not dishearten your children…slaves obey your masters…Col. 3:18-22, Col. 4:1

Imagine the organization chart for an organization to which you belong. Most of us could point out exactly where we fall on that chart and explain the responsibilities and chain of command. Households, and the families within them, in the Greco-Roman world were hierarchical in the way that organizations, businesses, and governments today are hierarchical.  Aristotle’s household codes present a hierarchy of genetic superiority of free males as justification for the position of women, children, and slaves as chattel. Roman culture accepted this as the natural order and considered these ideas to be foundational to maintaining a well-ordered civilization. While it may look like support for the existing cultural norm, offering mutual respect and loving intent as reasons for submitting to the hierarchies actually challenge these core assumptions. In 21st century culture advocating for the practice of slavery because it’s “biblical” is generally considered reprehensible and ridiculous. Most of our households are no longer multi-generational, and those that are, adult males are not subservient to their fathers until the elder dies. While these “biblical” practices have been relegated to the culture of the past, Complementarianism  vs. Egalitarianism (conflicting ideas about positions in hierarchy and general equality of males and females) is still being widely debated. Rather than propping up the ideas of hierarchies, household or otherwise, could it be that this passage simply continues the previous ideas about what it means to live in Christ while occupying a particular place in a hierarchy set by that particular culture at that particular time? In the context of Christ in us and we in Him, this passage supports finding a way of grace and respect within whatever hierarchies we find ourselves in.

Lord, help me respond to every person as a beloved and valuable human being rather than the position they occupy on a hierarchy.


Awareness. Perception. Reality.

July 12th, 2017 by Maureen

And whatever you do* in word or deed, everything in the name** of Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through*** Him. Col. 3:17

“In the name of Jesus” aren’t the magic words that go at the end of prayers to insure they work, but the recognition of our identity, of being in Him, and of Christ being in us. This sense of identity gives us clearer, more thorough, Christ-lit perceptions about what happens in our lives and how we respond. Everything we do, create, produce, think about, or collect happens in the reality of Christ whether we recognize it or not. Compartmentalizing our lives into “God” and “not God” piles limits our perceptions and influences how we experience, choose, respond, and process events and ideas that touch our lives. Sorting things like this can lead to faulty priorities, internal and relationship conflicts, and a general sense of dissatisfaction. Gratitude and peace come with deep awareness of being permeated by the reality of Christ in every aspect of our lives.

Lord, thank you for the love, grace, peace, hope, and abundance that comes when I am aware of You.

*ποιέω poieō translated “do” also means “create, produce, compose, multiply, consider, assume, spend time, prepare, play, act, practice.”

**ὄνομα onoma translated “name” also encompasses “character, reputation, and fame.” In Hebrew a name is inseparable from the person to whom it belongs.

***διά dia translated “through” means “instrumentally through, caused by, thoroughly and successfully across to the other side, to go all the way through”

About “within” – About “together”

July 11th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the word which is* Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and thinking** together*** in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts within* the Lord. Col. 3:16

Simultaneously experiencing Christ intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually in physical proximity, in an attitude of mutual support, connection, and unity with each other by singing together strengthens wisdom and grace in us as individuals and as a group.  Much of church form is based on the idea that someone is sharing information or trying to get people inspired about Christ and everyone else is either cooperating or resisting attempts made by the “exhorter.” Considering definitions and context, this verse describes a deeper and more mutual experience that questions the “exhorter” – “exhortee” model.

* ὅ  “ho” and ἐν ὅ  “en ho” are both translated “of” but “en” actually means “in or within” and “ho” denotes “who, which, that, what.” We can sing, talk and teach about Christ but the idea of singing, talking, and teaching within Him seems like a deeper experience.

**νουθετέω nouthetéō means “to put in mind.”   According to Strong’s the translations “admonish, warn, gently reprove, or exhort” are made “by implication.” Sadly, too often in the church  the idea of admonishment and exhortation has lost it’s gentleness and become separated from the mutuality and reciprocity inherent in the idea of being within Christ together.

***ἑαυτοῦ heautou tr. “one another” is a personal pronoun used to indicate that the one doing the action and the one acted upon are the same; to indicate mutual or reciprocal arrangement within the plural pronoun; and to remove ambiguity.

Lord, bring each into all that we may be in You, through You, and of You rather than just about You.

An umpire called Peace

July 10th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the peace of Christ make the call* in your heart, the peace to which indeed we are invited in one body. And be thankful. Col. 3:15

One of the challenges of working with others as a unit is having everyone on the same page. With the goals of efficiency, authority, consistency, or precision rather than peace, the way we decide to engage and respond to one another is often ruled by our heads rather than our hearts. Sometimes our hearts are ruling, but our pride-driven motives are to win or to rule rather than to resolve and to progress. Sometimes our heads and our hearts need an umpire. Who is in charge here and what are we trying to accomplish? Peace is not a call to compromise excellence, but to develop relationships and to experience unity on the way to achieving excellent results. Addressing others with love and patience might actually help them listen and respond positively to our messages so that issues can be resolved with less drama and more grace. Tone can go a long way in communication.

Lord, help me to remember how connected I am to those around me and that we are all in You together.

*βραβεύω brabeuó tr. “rule” also means “umpire, arbitrate, decide, determine, control”

Love gets top billing again

July 9th, 2017 by Maureen

and above* all these things, [have] love, which is a bond** of completeness.*** Col. 3:14

Love as priority in content, motive, and response is a theme throughout the epistles of Paul and the teachings of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. Not only is love “above” in the sense of priority, but it is also the outer layer and the permeating substance encompassing every other idea related to faith. Epidermis, the word for skin, has the same root. It’s the binding agent that holds everything else together and in place as a united whole. Christ is the love is that is before all things and holds everything together, including us. When a message is contained in love, when love is the driving motive and the leading tone in communication, it comes out differently and it’s received differently.

Lord, let love be priority and binding agent in all in my thoughts, emotions, responses, choices, and relationships.


*ἐπί, epi tr. “above” also means “on, upon, around, before, the basis of, embrace”

**σύνδεσμος  sundesmos tr. “bond” means “that which binds together, a bundle”

***teleiotēs – refers back to previous point about love as perfection and completeness made in Col. 1:28

The benefits of bearing with

July 8th, 2017 by Maureen

bear with* one another, and forgive one another, if any of you has a complaint against any other, bear with and forgive them as* the Christ bore with and forgave you. Col. 3:13

Crowd sourcing offense is becoming a national pastime. When faced with something disagreeable, annoying, offensive, or difficult our culture is training us to confront and to complain by attacking our offenders publicly, tweeting our displeasure, and demanding that those around us take sides. We become brittle, ungracious, and mean when we don’t allow some margin for error or disagreement in our relationships. We lose the opportunity to experience something transformative when being right becomes more important than being gracious. In the specific moments that we bear with one another and forgive one another the macro-level expression of God’s magnanimous love becomes a micro-level, concrete event in the world. Just as, on a macro-level Christ impacted everything through God’s love and grace, participating in such transformative and restorative experiences as tolerating and forgiving others can change the trajectories of our lives and all that we influence.

Lord, help me to bear with and forgive with the same love and grace Christ extends.

*ἀνέχομαι anechōmai tr. “bear with, forbear, endure” also means “tolerate or have patience with” or “still completing the process”

καθὼς kathōs tr. “as, because, or since” also means “in the same manner,” “in the degree that,” or “according to the manner in which”

Jeans that fit

July 7th, 2017 by Maureen

Put on, as choice ones of God, holy and beloved, tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Col. 3:12

There’s nothing like putting on a pair of jeans so worn in and familiar that they feel like part of us. Sometimes choosing to respond to someone with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, or patience can feel like putting on a pair of jeans that aren’t worn in yet. Just because being this way feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s not genuine. Christ has given us His own nature and this is who we are now. We can choose to put it on and wear it til it feel like it fits.

Lord, that patience parts still chafes a bit.

It’s not about the lists

July 3rd, 2017 by Maureen

Put to death what is earthly in you …* because of this focus the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disbelief. In them you once walked, when you were living among them, but now you put away all those things…* for life in Christ and put on a new man who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. Col. 3:5-11

This passage contains two lists of “sins.” There is a tendency to focus on these lists rather than the points being made. The lists are parenthetical to the passage. Forget them. God has. Throughout the New Testament and certainly in Colossians, it’s repeated over and over again that obedience to rules is not what Christ is about. This passage needs to be taken in that context. The point is belief, not law. Belief empowers us to put away what Christ has already put away, to let die in us what died with Christ, and to discover our lives in Him. Christ has definitively impressed His image on us and whatever horrible image we had of ourselves, and the acting out that results from believing that about ourselves, is over and dead. Thinking and choosing from this belief comes from a quite different perspective than the try-hard, white-knuckling, guilt-ridden experience of going through the lists and feeling like a complete failure doomed to a lifetime of God’s anger and rejection. God sent Jesus to dispense with that kind of grovelling so we can actually experience Him in the true love, peace, joy, and grace that is His nature and that He has made our nature as well.

Lord, renew my knowledge after Your image.


Aware and unaware

July 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

When Christ – who is our life – is made manifest*, then you will be manifest with Him in glory**. Col. 3:4

Is it possible that Christ can so permeate our lives that we provide clarity and concrete visuals of Him as we go about our lives in His love, grace, and peace?  Is it possible that we might enjoy moments of keen awareness, clarity, and glory in Christ through prayer, meditation, revelation, or some other God-initiated transcendent experience?  The theme of Colossians is the centrality of Christ and the impact of focusing on Who He Is and who we are in Him right now. These ideas are the immediate context of this verse. So maybe this is not (or not only) about some future revelation of Christ but about awareness of Christ that is available to us right now because in Him we live and move and have our being and He is our life.

Lord, You are my life when I am aware and when I am unaware of it.

*φανερόω phaneroō tr. “appears” or “is manifested” means “become apparent, made clear, made visible, made evident, shown, revealed, disclosed”

** δόξα, ης, ἡ doxa tr. “glory” meanings include “private opinion; reputation resulting in honor; brightness of sun and moon; magnificence or excellence; glorious condition or exalted state”

The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of seeking

July 1st, 2017 by Maureen

Therefore if raised with the Christ, seek* what is above where Christ is seated, at the right of God, focus on things above not on things on earth for you did die and your life is hid in Christ. Col. 3:1-3

To “seek” here means to inquire, to investigate, to deliberate.  “Who, what, when, where, why, and how” are starting points for inquiry.
“Who” – the Christ. This is beyond the person of Jesus. This is about His restorative purpose and function.
“What” – Seek, think about, focus on, and give priority to Christ
“When” – Focus is on the present reality of Christ
“Where” – As physical beings we like being able to place something or someone in a location. Metaphorically gods in most traditions reside above. The right hand of God positions Christ in a place of power and authority. We also consider “higher” thinking to focus on more abstract, philosophical, and altruistic ideas while practical and sensual thought belong in the earthly realms. Remember also that earlier in the letter Paul also locates Christ as “in” us and locates us “in” Him.
“Why” – The “therefore” at the beginning indicates the “why” or “because,” linking this passage to what was just said about not having to be influenced by or connected to sin or law. Paul used “dead” there too.
“How” – The secret is “in” Christ. Being “in” is experiential, encompassing but not limited to cognitive or emotional intelligence or awareness. There is no step-by-step process for seeking. The good news is that Christ already places us “in” Himself. Seeking leads us higher up and further in.
* The Greek word”zéteó ζητειτε” tr. “seek” means “to seek by inquiry.”
**The Greek word “kryptō” tr. “hid” also means “keep secret”

One sure fire way to be less obnoxious

June 30th, 2017 by Maureen

“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” Such teachings are about perishable things. These rules might seem god because rules like these promote will power, humility,  and asceticism but provide no value toward the goal of addressing self-indulgence. Col. 2:21-23

We identify some personal goal or some self-destructive tendency and decide to use one of the many programs or apps designed to help us with self-control. Follow a diet. Create a budget. Read the Bible in a year. Do the 12 steps. Walk the 10,000 steps. Practice daily for half-an hour. Disciplines can be beneficial to our lives; and there is nothing wrong with using tools that help us live healthier, more functional lives. Overemphasis on our disciplines makes us obnoxious, though. Relationships suffer when we base our esteem of ourselves and others on measuring up to a discipline. Legalism happens when we make doctrines out of a discipline that works for us as individuals and attempt to impose it on everyone else as the God-approved method for addressing a particular issue. This does not work. And…if you must be a vocal evangelist about something, let it be about the love, grace, and freedom of Christ not your current self-improvement program.

Lord, If we employ disciplines help us to do so appropriately.

Questions worth asking about all things

June 29th, 2017 by Maureen

and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself — having made peace through the blood of His cross — through Him, whether the things upon the earth, whether the things in the heavens. Col. 1:20

If Christ reconciles all things, then why is this such an agitated, confusing, disagreeable world? How are we supposed to go about reconciling the world to Christ? Such questions motivate humans to organize religious, political, or social reforms or target injustices or try really hard to do what Jesus would do. Such attempts might cause positive change in the world, and in ourselves, but our best efforts to reconcile things to Christ on our own generally result in forced conformity. More constructive questions to pursue: How do we embrace and reflect His reconciliation? How do we learn to notice and celebrate His reconciliation in all the things around us? How do we help wake up the world to His reconciliation? Pursuing such questions leads to greater peace, freedom, and awareness as we trust that Christ is the agent of reconciliation having made our peace already.

Lord, help me to live reconciliation.

Toxic control methods to recognize and run from

June 27th, 2017 by Maureen

Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement* and the worship** of angels (or messengers), going on in detail about visions, unreasonably inflated based on human conceits, not securing to Christ, the head, who holds all other parts of the body together so that it grows with a growth that is from God. Col. 1:18-19

Nobody gets to disqualify someone Christ has redeemed.  Nobody gets to impose a set of rules, practices, restrictions and positions on someone Christ has set free. Nobody gets to use angels and visions as a means of control or validation. Nobody gets to feed their own ego by using their “spirituality” as social currency. These sorts of toxic control methods are often orchestrated by leaders focused on “growth” whether it be numerical or “spiritual.” Such growth comes by creating “us” and “them” categories so that members of a group can feel superior or special; or by institutionalizing growth so that members can feel like they are progressing by meeting goals and criteria. Trusting Christ to grow us and other people, and letting go of control and the pride that comes with control, leads to a much more organic and less self-directed growth experience. Christ-directed growth creates a greater sense of connection with those around us who are also part of what Christ is holding together and growing.

Lord, help me to let go of the human conceits and let You manage growth.


*tapeinophrosynē tr. humility, forms of personal asceticism, or self-abasement (literal “unto a lowed centeredness“)

**thrēskeia tr. worship (can represent range of meanings: “general religion, cultic practices, religious traditions, religious obligations, philosophical positions”) and often carries negative connotations in Greek writings outside the Bible.


Shadows and reality

June 26th, 2017 by Maureen

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath which was a shadow of what was to come, but the reality is found in Christ.  Col. 2:16-17

Some people use rituals, icons, and observation of holy days to enhance spiritual meaning, and experience God in the process. Some consider such things superficial and find no spiritual value in observing them, and experience God through individual processes (which, if honestly analyzed, might qualify as personal “rituals.”) Interpreting the ritual or tradition, or the rejecting of it, as the pathway to interaction with God will likely result in a shadowed experience; as will getting judgy and insisting that everyone else is “doing it wrong.” If the reality of spiritual experience with God is found in Christ, and if Christ is love and His message is grace, then the way we interact with God is enhanced by love and grace toward those around us.

Thank You God for wanting to be close to us and wanting us to experience closeness with you. Help us all come out of any shadows and into the reality found in Christ.