What do these have in common: politics, race, sex, religion, ideology, prosperity, progress, popular opinion and the media? They are all spiritual powers that impact our lives every day. They are not the only ones. We are influenced by many political, social and cultural pressures. We might not think of them as spiritual powers, but they really are non-material powerful forces shaping life in our world. People in the ancient town of Colossae were fully aware of powers like these. For them, God was remote. What they had to do was to serve and be obedient to the powers and authorities that were intermediary between God and humanity These powers were like demi-gods or angels. That was their religion. Some people in the little church there brought this with them into the church, but Paul wrote to tell them, in no uncertain terms, that all the fullness of God was present in Jesus Christ. “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (NRSV). We need no intermediaries between ourselves and God. These powers are natural, that is, they are part of God’s good creation, meant to serve God’s love-filled purposes. They are not to be the ultimate controlling influence in our lives. When they loom larger in our lives than the love-filled way of God, becoming like gods to us, they work as enemies of God. The powers of empire (in the person of the procurator, Pontius Pilate) and the powers of religion (in the person of Caiaphas, the High Priest, and the Sanhedrin) put Jesus to death, but in raising him from the dead, God triumphed over the powers. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them.” Through our relationship with Christ, we do not have to be simply tossed around as the plaything of these powers. The authority of Christ takes precedence over any other authority or power.
- What are some of the political, cultural and social pressures on you that you are aware of?
- How can they serve God’s purposes?
- When is their authority given precedence over God’s love-based authority?
- “ For the full content of divine nature lives in Christ, in his humanity” (Good News Bible translation of Colossians 2:9): What then does this tell us about the nature of God?