Religion should make a difference in our lives. By “religion,” I mean the set of outward behavior, practices, ethics and rituals that we do or avoid doing to mark ourselves as believers. Believing in God means we ought to love and value what God loves and values, and therefore we ought not to be nicer to each other. Yet, religion doesn’t seem to solve all the problems we think it ought to solve. What is wrong with religion? Why doesn’t it make more difference?
Jeremiah Answers: What does God want from us? Faithfulness. Calling begins with God, develops through our relationship with God and that relationship leads us to others.
The book of Jeremiah is about global national and political crisis, personal crisis and most importantly, the word of the Lord.
Paul contrasts faith in Christ with keeping a set of religious disciplines. He claims limiting what you eat or practicing specific rituals as an effort to prove yourself a spiritual person or show yourself worthy to God is foolishness. It misses what Christ came to do for you.
Performing external rituals does not change my sinful heart. There is only one way to be made clean.
Paul is laboring to nurture a strong mature faith among his readers. He struggles to make the truth of the gospel crystal clear so that our understanding reaches settled conviction and full assurance such we have the courage to follow Jesus no matter what.
In perhaps the most explicit teaching on the Christ in the New Testament, Paul says: 1) all that we can know of God is seen in Jesus because the visible man Jesus reveals the invisible God to us, and 2) Jesus has priority in every way as the Father has given authority over all creation to Jesus. Written to a community in danger of leaving the gospel, Paul emphasizes that Christ and the cross are essential to getting the gospel right.
Paul is thankful for what God has done in the Colossian church to bring about their faith and salvation through Jesus Christ which has resulted in their faith and love of their fellow believers. What has transformed their thinking and who they identify as their people is the hope which results from understanding and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The first two verses of Colossians follow the typical greeting for a New Testament letter: the author(s), the recipient(s), greetings. Paul identifies what his readers should understand about him. Then he explains who he considers his readers to be, particularly in relationship to God.