Rooted in ChristFr. Barnabas Powell
Ever heard the saying “It’s all or nothing!” This perspective says you have to choose in life to be all in or get all out!
But I wonder how far we can really push this insight. I think there’s something better for those of us who follow Jesus Christ. I prefer “All AND Nothing.” You see, life really is made up of choices, perspectives, and priorities.
But how do you know which needs to be everything and which needs to be nothing? You are going to set priorities in your life even if you don’t mean to. As they say “No choice is a choice!” You are going to live your life based on some foundational beliefs about what is most important to you. And the choices you make are going to reveal what is most important to you, even if you don’t mean to reveal it! How you live reveals who you really are.
So, what are the foundational principles of your life? How do you decide what’s most important? You do have foundational beliefs. All of us do, and even if we passively just accept the principles of those around us, we still choose to do that. But what if I told you there was a way for your life to be rooted in Someone Eternal that puts all other choices in perspective and makes you a truly human and mature person? Are you interested?
Look at our lesson today in Colossians 2:1-7:
Brethren, I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with beguiling speech. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Don’t you just love the way Paul says things? I am particularly drawn to his phrase “assured understanding.” You see, these precious Christians in Colosse were too young in the faith to properly discern healthy perspectives and principles. They had believed the Good News of the Resurrected Jesus, and they had embraced the life of a believer, but they hadn’t quite grown up enough to spot the errors in the beautiful words of those who were attempting to capture them in false doctrines. They needed more formation, and more rootedness in Christ to be able to spot the weakness in lesser theology.
They hadn’t quite developed enough to understand that they had to constantly choose between all AND nothing.
Paul tells them the key is, as always, Jesus Christ. It is in getting the Person of Jesus right that reveals ALL of Who He is and gives us the strength to accept NOTHING else. Paul tells these believers that it is their very communion with each other and him, even though he’s never met them, that guards them all against false teachings. And the glue that holds them together; love, provides a powerful antidote to being deluded by bad theology. When we stick together and understand the power of communion with each other AND ALL the faithful who have ever lived, then we are protected from falling for false doctrine. After all, Jesus destroyed mortality, so physical death isn’t able to break the bonds that bind the Church together.
He also teaches them, and us, that this “assured understanding” is completely embodied in Jesus Christ. When my life is focused on Jesus Christ as the Truest Icon of what a human person really is, I am empowered to mine the treasures of Him and learn “wisdom and knowledge.” My life, rooted in Him, takes on a maturity, a peacefulness, and a faithfulness that is undisturbed by what is going on around me!
All too often prideful humans wish to insist they are wise enough and knowledgeable enough without any visible connection to Jesus Christ. St. Paul insists this is not possible. Connection to Jesus is a prerequisite to true wisdom and knowledge.
Paul goes on to tell them that the result of being focused on Jesus Christ leads to both “good order and firmness” of faith. Doesn’t our current day just scream out for some solid ground to build a life on? With all the so-called “freedom” of our society, it seems that confusion and even downright delusion are the norm. Our children deserve a solid foundation on which to build their futures, and that can’t happen without the “assured understanding” of Jesus Christ. But they won’t have that rooted life in Christ if we don’t model it in front of them!
Just as we remembered the great Saint Demetrios yesterday and you read his story, today we remember his friend St. Nestor, and his defeat of the arrogant Lyaeus in the arena in Thessaloniki. St. Nestor knew to seek out the wisdom and blessing of the great saint Demetrios. He knew his battle must be rooted in Christ if he was to defeat the enemy that arrogantly set himself above the true God Christ Jesus. St. Nestor and his faithfulness show us how to defeat the arrogant enemies within each of us that constantly scream out for attention and for obedience, but none of these passions are wise enough or tame enough to lead us in the right direction. It is only a life rooted in Christ that knows how to discern how to tame our passions and desires so they serve us instead of lead us to addictions and selfish living.
Today, are you “rooted and built up” in Jesus Christ? Is your life marked with “thanksgiving” for the solid foundation that a focused life on Jesus Christ provides? Such spiritual treasures are right now, this very day, available to you so that your life can embrace the All AND Nothing of living a Normal Orthodox Life!
P.S. Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since he possessed Your strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.
Please pray for Fr. Barnabas as he travels to Irvine, CA for the special event at St. Paul’s parish. Father will then be flying to Phoenix to attend the annual National Clergy Retreat for the week.