Colossians 2:9-10. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
What gives your life its fullness? Isn’t this what everybody wants, to live a full life? A life of meaning and substance? A life without regret? “He/she lived life to the fullest,” we say when someone passes away. That old rom-com movie, Jerry McGuire, gave us the iconic line “You complete me.” What completes you? What completes me? Where do we find our fullness?
Paul’s warning to the Colossian Christians is that they watch out for those that would try to offer a fullness to life beyond the fullness of Jesus Christ, and knowing and trusting him. Here’s the warning:
Colossians 2:8. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Philosophies. Traditions. Elemental spirits of the world. Thank goodness we don’t have any of these things trying to take captive our hearts today. Am I right?
But of course we do. For the Colossians these things were found in the old traditions of Judaism and in the new religions of the Greek temples surrounding them. But what about for us today as Christians? What false religions do we seek fullness from? What false religions take captive our hearts? For most of us it’s the secular religions that surround us. Things that aren’t labelled “religious,” and so therefore they aren’t dangerous, right? We aren’t being tempted to run away from Jesus to Allah, or Buddha, or Brahma.
But what about the religion of busyness? Or perfectionism? Or performancism? Is your fullness found in how exhausted you are? In how much you accomplished today? In checking off all your to-do list? Do your kids have to practice the piano until they get it right? Do you value others based on how well they perform?
What about the religion of romance? Or sex? Or sexuality? Are you in love with love? Do you fantasize about how to get more out of your marriage? Or do you fantasize about how to get out of your marriage? What about pornography? Sexual identity? Getting married? Finding your soulmate (not a thing)? What about “you complete me?”
What about the religion of social media? Followers. Likes. Comments. Re-tweets. Do these fulfill you? Are you constantly checking your phone for assurance of your social salvation?
What about the religion of parenting? Helicopter parenting. Bulldozer parenting. Free-range parenting. Tiger momming. Which one makes you a good parent, and hopefully a better parent than your friends?
What about the religion of your career? Your work? When you think of who you are is your job the first thing that comes to mind? Is your work your refuge? Is it your value? Is it your fullness? Is productivity your idol? Is your cubicle your temple?
What about the religions of leisure? Of entertainment? Of exercise? Of food?
And of course, what about the religion of politics? Maybe more than all the other religions we’ve listed so far, politics offers us the closest fullness to the one found only in Christ. The fullness of hope, of righteousness, of acceptance, of meaning itself. Our candidate, our party, our platform, these are our saviors now (at least every four years).
So are our hearts in danger? Yes. Terribly so. Our hearts are just as easily deceived into chasing philosophies and elemental spirits. Anything that offers fullness through our own efforts and achievements.
But true fullness can only come from the one who is the fullness of God himself. And so Paul tells us first that in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. And then, flowing from him to us, we too have been filled in him.
Do you know what this means? To be forever full? Never empty? Imagine the possibilities! Imagine never living from emptiness, incompleteness, conceit, manipulation, or desperation ever again. What would life even look like? Can you even imagine it? As compassionate, courageous, and content as Jesus himself, the fullest human ever.
How is this even possible?
Not because in Christ we can do anything, but because in our fullness in Christ we no longer need to do anything. He is the head of all rule and authority. Now your free! Your fullness has made you truly free. Free to fail. Free to fall short of all your goals. Free to rest. Free to not fall in love. Free to reject the promotion. Free to have under-achieving kids. Free to trust those on the other side of the political aisle. Free to not lose the weight, or not finish the project, or not solve every body’s problems. No matter what you do or don’t do – you’re still full in Christ.
And when you embrace that fullness and the freedom that comes with it, you might find that you’re finally free to love. You might find that you’re finally free to hope in an eternal kingdom. You might find that you’re finally free “to live is Christ.”
Can you identify the false “religions” that offer your heart fullness?
You in Christ
What does it mean to you that you are full in Christ?
Christ in you
How might your life look different today if you lived from Christ’s fullness?
Playlist: The Fullness of Christ.