The other morning I was drawn to passage in Colossians, in which Paul makes a grand statement about the believer’s walk with Christ. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Col 2:6-7)
We received Christ by faith: “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). Paul’s implication is that those who accepted Christ in faith ought to “walk”—to live and think—by faith, as well.
Paul is exhorting believers to hold fast to the true Christ spoken of by the prophets and apostles. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6).
Walking in Christ Jesus is nothing less than submission to His lordship. Our Savior calls us to obedience, not that we might earn our salvation but that we may display our gratitude for His grace. If we truly love Him, with the love for God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who sealed us (Rom. 5:5), we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn 5:3).
We will reflect the fact that we are in union with Christ, and we will grow in our knowledge and application of the gospel as we bow to Him as Lord (Col. 2:7). Matthew Henry writes, “If we live in Him, we shall be rooted in Him; and the more firmly we are rooted in Him, the more intimately we shall live in Him.”
Paul provides three images that show the importance of walking in faith (Col 2:6). First, we are “rooted” in Christ. The idea is that of a tree or plant whose roots form the strength and basis for life. The believer’s roots are Christ, not another source, as false teachers would suggest. So as Christ is our source, we are to imitate Him (Eph 5:1-2). “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col 3:17).
Second, the believer is “built up” in Christ. This building or architectural metaphor speaks of a building that is constructed by the power of Christ. Just as only Christ can save a person, only Christ can build up or mature a person. Jesus gave us the blueprint with His very words: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5) It is only through submitting ourselves to His work within us that we are able to have our faith built up in Christ.
Third, to be “established” in the faith is a legal metaphor referring to maturity or something firmly decided. We understand this only as God’s children: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22)
Jesus Christ is our foundation, it all starts with faith in who He is, and in His love and grace–the finished work of the cross. This foundation will help our roots go down deep so we can withstand the elements or storms of life. “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit” (Jer 17:8).
Once our foundation is established, now we can build our lives from the same material our foundation is built from–His Word. With a solid foundation and our lives built on and submitted to His Word, we can mature to the point that we trust our Heavenly Father fully. So fully, in fact, that we rest the entire weight of our lives on Him, trusting He won’t let us down. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).
It is in knowing Him and in abiding in Him, that we come to the understanding that He is the One who holds everything together, including us. The better we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the more thankful we are. Our daily walk with Him helps us experience the true abundance of godly thankfulness because “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).
God directs the outcome of circumstances as a means of our sanctification into Christlikeness He works within us. Let us begin to abound in thanksgiving as we visualize God as the great conductor over our circumstances, using them as an instrument for our growth in grace. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5)
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.