Scripture has merit when read piecemeal, isolated from it context; but new worlds of understanding and application open when we gain an appreciation for the life situation of the original author and audience.
This letter is written in response to a “Colossian heresy.” Although the scholars differ on specifics, certain issues are clear: Some in the Colossian church adhered to a kind of mysticism that questioned the completeness of Christ’s revelation. The writer emphasizes that Jesus fully embodied God’s presence. Being united to Christ by faith means we already have direct access to God’s fullness. Nothing more is required. Verses 8-15 represent justification for the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ’s work.
Nothing we do can add to the work of Christ; no philosophy we might adhere to can trump the revelation of Christ. So we do well to beware of tacked-on practices of Christianity – speaking in tongues or seeing visions, for example – that supposedly enhance or legitimize God’s revelation in Jesus.
Perhaps the “What Would Jesus Do” (WWJD) movement can help us in this regard; namely, since Jesus manifested everything that God was and is, we do well to follow his example and make his way of life our own. God does not award extra credit for solving spiritual mysteries.
O God, by your Spirit help us humbly to ask for and willingly receive your wisdom, discernment, insight, and courage. Through Christ or Lord. Amen.