My mother was an English teacher. I learned early on to never start a sentence with “me” and when to use “whom” instead of “who.” I was also taught that a preposition is a word that shows a relationship between two nouns or pronouns. For example, the presents are under the tree. Or, the cake is on the plate (and soon to be in my stomach). We use prepositions in our spiritual life as well when we describe our walk with God.

In the middle of the first century, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Colossae, which was a smallish city in the middle of the Lycus valley in what is now west-central Turkey. The Colossian Christians were being adversely affected by false teachings, probably originating from a hard-core Jewish faction, about the cosmos and higher powers,. This was threatening to unravel the newly forged unity that Jews and Gentiles had found in Christ (read Ephesians for more on this). The apostle Paul feared these false teachings were a threat to their nascent faith in Christ and it motivated him to write to the Colossians and another letter to the nearby church in Laodicea.

In Colossians, Paul presented Christ as the Head of His Body, the church and supreme over all creation. He used the prepositional phrase “in Christ” nine times and “in him” is used six times. Paul made a concerted effort to re-focus the local believers on their relationships with Christ and to help them understand that finding their identity in Christ. In Christ, they had everything they needed spiritually. They were no longer bound to the trappings and traditions of their previous belief system. They had the fullness of God in the person of Christ.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude

Colossians 2:6-7

Paul’s thoughts echo Jesus’ appeal in John 15: “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. Being “in Christ” or “remaining in Him” feels like a call for us to remain connected to Christ. Going to church, giving contribution, meeting the needs of others are wonderful things to do but at its core, being a Christian is about having a relationship with Christ. It is a call to identify ourselves with the person and heart of Christ, and not anyone or anything else.

Paul’s encouragement to the Colossians was to not lose the person of Christ in the tangle of mysteries, philosophies, traditions, and holidays. Having a relationship with God is not about trying to “be like Jesus.” That sounds exhausting and very daunting. It is learning to love and admire and follow a person whose transcendent life and death has given us natural-born sinners the chance to be viewed as holy. And there is something in that for all of us.

~Written by Guest Author, Jay Schmidt