The Mystery Revealed, Christ is Enough, so Walk in Newness of Life
Life is a race. This is a common metaphor used with a variety of implications. Some use it to refer to the various seasons and stages of life. But we, as Christians, typically use it in reference to our spiritual walk. We didn’t come up with this nifty turn of speech, Paul did. Throughout his letters he likened the spiritual life to a race. And just like all races, there are rules on how to run and consequences if those rules are broken. The greatest consequence an athlete could ever face is disqualification.
Aside from injury, this is the worst thing that could ever happen to an athlete. It means that something has happened which has rendered the competitor unworthy to compete. Either they broke the rules or someone else broke the rules and it affected them. Disqualification carries with it shame, disappointment, and embarrassment, and all serious contenders are hyper aware of all that could disqualify them.
But how does all this apply to Colossians? Well, Paul uses this verb most recognized and understood in competitive sports and applies it to our Christian walk. He writes:
“Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”
What a powerful exhortation! But how do we become disqualified? According to Paul, by detaching from the Head, who is Jesus Christ. For the Colossians, that looked like asceticism or self-denial taken to its extreme, worship of angels, and fascination with visions, but for us it may look different. We might have to watch out for legalism, complacency, moral compromise, or man-made regulations. Nevertheless, the bottom line remains the same. We become disqualified whenever we decide to follow our own or someone else’s religious pursuits and rituals over God’s way.
Disqualify. What a heavy word! As we mentioned already, it’s the worst thing that could happen to an athlete competing in a race. But if you’re like me and could care less about sports, let me give you a more tangible example.
The ESV translation states “disqualify you” but for us non-sport fanatics the NASB puts it in a better light: “let no one defraud you of your reward.” Let no one steal the reward, inheritance, or treasure that is waiting for you. Don’t let anyone deceive you into losing your eternal hope. Does that give you a better picture of what Paul is exhorting us?
Whether we enjoy physical sports or not, our spiritual life is likened to a race throughout Scripture. Some days our race of faith will feel like a sprint, but most of the time it will seem to be as endless as a marathon, and we can easily become distracted by the temptations and allures of the world. Nevertheless, run life like a sprint with the endurance of a marathon, keeping your eyes on the prize and remembering that Christ is enough. He’s done the completed work and freely gives us all that we have need of. So, all the extra rules, regulations, and expectations aren’t needed. They don’t attain for us a more perfect salvation or elevate us to a more saintly position. Nothing we could do could be purer, whiter, or more powerful than the blood of Christ. So let us not add to the gospel and thus risk becoming disqualified. Instead, let us heed the admonition of Paul to the Corinthians:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?
So run that you may obtain it.”
~I Corinthians 9:24