The Sufficiency of Christ
We live in a world that is obsessed with the next big thing. When I was young if you would have shown me a lineup of people sleeping in the streets in an urban area I would have assumed that the cause of this was homelessness. Now you would have to wonder if perhaps it was a group of people waiting for the next big electronic device to be released. Many of us want to have the next iteration of a device so badly that extreme measures are taken to ensure the device is acquired. All of this obsession for the next big thing and chances are that the people waiting in line may in fact have a similar device with them that works just fine. It is easy for the newest version of our precious devices to convince us that what we have is not sufficient for what we need for it to do. Our thinking can be overcome with ways that we can afford the upgrade until we get that new electronic marvel.
While it would be easy to see this as a particularly modern problem centered around our affluent society and marketing that is in our faces in print, television, and online ads. While those things may exaggerate this desire for the next big thing it has always been a reality for humanity. We want more whether it is technology or automobiles. Who knows maybe the in the past people were looking to upgrade their chariots and wagons. This is just a part of our fallen nature. We never seem to be satisfied with what we have. We refuse to believe that what we have is sufficient.
In the book of Colossians we see Paul addressing this problem in the faith of saints at the church of Colossae. Paul doesn't give us the specific issue that is happening in this church like he does in other books but we can gather from what he is writing what is going on. They do not question the necessity of Jesus and the gospel but they are not convinced of the sufficiency of Christ's work for them. They believed that pagan spiritual powers could somehow disqualify them from the faith and so think meant they thought they needed something more. They though they needed a spiritual ascent with rituals and feasts and then, with the help of Jesus, they could perhaps make it to heaven.
Paul comes with the opening of the book of Colossians and decimates all of that by letting them know that Jesus greater than anything else. He is sufficient. They don't need rites and rituals or pagan spiritual ascent. They need the gospel. Paul urges them to hold fast to what they heard about the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. They don't need more than that. It is enough. It is sufficient.
While it is unlikely that we will think that somehow spiritual forces will disqualify us from our salvation, the book of Colossians is very relevant to us today. Just like our desires for the next big thing we are prone to believe we need a little extra beyond what we already have in Christ. We come up with all kinds of things we believe we need to do that will help with our spiritual ascent but we are reminded in Colossians to hold to the gospel we first heard. We are called to trust and believe that what Jesus has done for us in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension is enough.
When we are tempted to feel as though we need to do something more we must remember the sufficiency of the gospel. Why would we want to lean on ourselves? What could we do that could possibly be better than the sacrifice of God the Son bearing the wrath of God for us? So instead of resting on our own works we trust that as we hear the Word of God and the gospel proclaimed to us that the Holy Spirit will be at work in us. We don't need the next spiritual big thing to be closer to God. In the gospel he has come as near to us as he will ever be. We need to trust that it is enough and rest in the work of our great Savior for us.