‘Go On Walking in Union With Christ’
“Therefore, as you have accepted Christ Jesus the Lord, go on walking in union with him.”—COLOSSIANS 2:6.
1, 2. (a) How does the Bible describe Enoch’s life of faithful service to Jehovah? (b) How has Jehovah helped us to walk with him, as Colossians 2:6, 7 indicates?
HAVE you ever watched a small boy walking with his father? The little fellow imitates his father’s every move, his face glowing with admiration; the father helps him along, his own face lit with love and approval. Fittingly, Jehovah uses just such a picture to describe a life of faithful service to him. For example, God’s Word says that the faithful man Enoch “kept walking with the [true] God.”—Genesis 5:24; 6:9.
2 Just as a considerate father would help his young son to walk with him, Jehovah has given us the best possible aid. He sent his only-begotten Son to the earth. In every step of his lifelong walk here on earth, Jesus Christ perfectly reflected his heavenly Father. (John 14:9, 10; Hebrews 1:3) So in order to walk with God, we need to walk with Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore, as you have accepted Christ Jesus the Lord, go on walking in union with him, rooted and being built up in him and being stabilized in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with faith in thanksgiving.”—Colossians 2:6, 7.
3. According to Colossians 2:6, 7, why can we say that there is more to walking in union with Christ than simply getting baptized?
3 Because they want to walk in union with Christ, endeavoring to follow his perfect steps, honesthearted Bible students get baptized. (Luke 3:21; Hebrews 10:7-9) Worldwide, in 1997 alone, over 375,000 took this vital step—an average of over 1,000 each day. This increase is thrilling! However, Paul’s words recorded at Colossians 2:6, 7 show that there is more to walking in union with Christ than simply getting baptized. The Greek verb rendered “go on walking” describes an action that must be continuous, ongoing. Further, Paul adds that walking with Christ involves four things: being rooted in Christ, being built up in him, being stabilized in the faith, and overflowing with thanksgiving. Let us consider each phrase and see how it helps us to continue walking in union with Christ.
Are You ‘Rooted in Christ’?
4. What does it mean to be ‘rooted in Christ’?
4 First, Paul writes, we need to be ‘rooted in Christ.’ (Compare Matthew 13:20, 21.) How can a person work toward being rooted in Christ? Well, the roots of a plant are hidden from view, but they are vital to the plant—they give it stability and supply it nourishment. Similarly, Christ’s example and teaching affect us first invisibly, becoming embedded in our minds and hearts. There they nourish and strengthen us. When we allow them to govern our thinking, our actions, and our decisions, we are moved to dedicate our lives to Jehovah.—1 Peter 2:21.
5. How can we “form a longing” for spiritual food?
5 Jesus loved the knowledge from God. He even likened it to food. (Matthew 4:4) Why, in his Sermon on the Mount, he made 21 quotations from eight different books of the Hebrew Scriptures. To follow his example, we must do as the apostle Peter exhorts—“form a longing” for spiritual food “as newborn infants.” (1 Peter 2:2) When a newborn infant longs for nourishment, he leaves no doubt about his intense longing. If we do not at present feel that way about spiritual food, Peter’s words encourage us to “form” that longing. How? The principle found at Psalm 34:8 may help: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.” If we regularly “taste” of Jehovah’s Word, the Bible, perhaps reading a portion of it each day, we will see that it is spiritually nourishing and good. In time, our longing for it will grow.
6. Why is it important to meditate on what we read?
6 However, it is important to digest food well once we have taken it in. So we need to meditate on what we read. (Psalm 77:11, 12) For example, as we read the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, each chapter takes on greater value if we stop and ask ourselves: ‘What facet of Christ’s personality do I see in this account, and how can I imitate it in my own life?’ Meditating that way will enable us to apply what we learn. Then, when faced with a decision, we may ask ourselves what Jesus might have done. If we make our decision accordingly, we give evidence of being truly rooted in Christ.
7. What should be our view of solid spiritual nourishment?
7 Paul also urges us to take in “solid food,” the deeper truths of God’s Word. (Hebrews 5:14) Reading the entire Bible might be our first goal in this regard. Then there are more specific topics of study, such as the ransom sacrifice of Christ, the various covenants that Jehovah made with his people, or some of the prophetic messages in the Bible. There is an abundance of material that will help us absorb and digest such solid spiritual food. What is the goal of taking in such knowledge? It is, not to give us reason for boasting, but to build our love of Jehovah and draw us closer to him. (1 Corinthians 8:1; James 4:8) If we hungrily take in this knowledge, apply it to ourselves, and use it to help others, we will truly be imitating Christ. This will help us to be properly rooted in him.
Are You ‘Being Built Up in Christ’?
8. What does it mean to be ‘built up in Christ’?
8 For the next aspect of walking in union with Christ, Paul shifts quickly from one visual image to another—from that of a plant to that of a building. When we think of a building under construction, we think of not just the foundation but also the edifice that rises up in plain view, through much hard work. Similarly, we have to do a lot of hard work to build qualities and habits that are Christlike. Such hard work does not go unnoticed, even as Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘Let your advancement be made manifest to all persons.’ (1 Timothy 4:15; Matthew 5:16) What are some Christian works that build us up?
9. (a) In order to imitate Christ in our ministry, what are some practical goals we might set? (b) How do we know that Jehovah wants us to enjoy our ministry?
9 Jesus assigned us to preach and to teach the good news. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) He set the perfect example, witnessing boldly and effectively. Of course, we will never do as well as he did. However, the apostle Peter sets this goal for us: “Sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) If you do not feel that you are “always ready to make a defense,” do not despair. Set reasonable goals that will help you to inch closer to that standard. Advance preparation may enable you to vary your presentation or include a scripture or two. You might set goals to place more Bible literature, to make more return visits, or to start a Bible study. The emphasis should not be strictly on quantity—as in the number of hours, placements, or studies—but on quality. Setting reasonable goals and reaching out to attain them can help us to enjoy giving of ourselves in the ministry. That is what Jehovah wants—for us to serve him “with rejoicing.”—Psalm 100:2; compare 2 Corinthians 9:7.
10. What are some other Christian works that we need to perform, and how do these help us?
10 There are also works that we perform in the congregation that build us up in Christ. The most important is that of showing love for one another, for this is the identifying mark of true Christians. (John 13:34, 35) While we are yet studying, many of us become attached to our teacher, as is only natural. However, could we now follow Paul’s counsel to “widen out” by getting to know others in the congregation? (2 Corinthians 6:13) The elders too need our love and appreciation. By cooperating with them, seeking and accepting their Scriptural counsel, we will make their hard work that much easier. (Hebrews 13:17) At the same time, this will contribute to our being built up in Christ.
11. What realistic view should we take of baptism?
11 Baptism is an exciting occasion! However, we should not expect every moment of life thereafter to be equally thrilling. A large part of our being built up in Christ involves “walking orderly in this same routine.” (Philippians 3:16) That does not mean a dull, boring life-style. It simply means walking ahead in a straight line—in other words, building up good spiritual habits and keeping to them day by day, year in and year out. Remember, “he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matthew 24:13.
Are You “Being Stabilized in the Faith”?
12. What does it mean to be “stabilized in the faith”?
12 In his third phrase describing our walk in union with Christ, Paul urges us to be “stabilized in the faith.” One version reads, “confirmed regarding the faith,” for the Greek word Paul used can mean “to confirm, guarantee, and make irrevocable legally.” As we grow in knowledge, we are given further reasons to see that our faith in Jehovah God is well-founded and, in fact, is legally established. The result is an increase in our stability. It becomes increasingly difficult for Satan’s world to sway us. This reminds us of Paul’s admonition to “press on to maturity.” (Hebrews 6:1) Maturity and stability go hand in hand.
13, 14. (a) The first-century Christians at Colossae faced what threats to their stability? (b) What may have concerned the apostle Paul?
13 The first-century Christians in Colossae faced threats to their stability. Paul warned: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Paul did not want the Colossians, who had become subjects in “the kingdom of the Son of [God’s] love,” to be carried off, led away from their blessed spiritual state. (Colossians 1:13) Misled by what means? Paul pointed to “philosophy,” the only time this word occurs in the Bible. Was he talking about the Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Socrates? Although these posed a threat to true Christians, in those days, the word “philosophy” had a broad usage. It commonly referred to many groups and schools of thought—even religious ones. For instance, such first-century Jews as Josephus and Philo called their own religion a philosophy—perhaps to add to its appeal.
14 Some philosophies that may have concerned Paul were of a religious nature. Later in the same chapter of his letter to the Colossians, he addressed those who taught, “Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch,” thereby alluding to features of the Mosaic Law that were terminated by Christ’s death. (Romans 10:4) Along with pagan philosophies, influences were at work that threatened the spirituality of the congregation. (Colossians 2:20-22) Paul warned against philosophy that was part of “the elementary things of the world.” Such false instruction was of human origin.
15. How can we avoid being swayed by the unscriptural thinking that often comes our way?
15 The promoting of human ideas and thinking not based solidly on God’s Word can pose a threat to Christian stability. We today must be wary of such threats. The apostle John urged: “Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” (1 John 4:1) So if a schoolmate tries to convince you that living by Bible standards is old-fashioned, or if a neighbor tends to influence you to adopt a materialistic attitude, or if a coworker subtly pressures you to violate your Bible-trained conscience, or even if a fellow believer voices critical, negative comments about others in the congregation based on his own opinion, do not just absorb what they say. Screen out what does not harmonize with God’s Word. As we do so, we will maintain our stability as we walk in union with Christ.
“Overflowing With Faith in Thanksgiving”
16. What is the fourth aspect of walking in union with Christ, and what question might we ask?
16 The fourth aspect of walking in union with Christ that Paul mentions is that we be “overflowing with faith in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:7) The word “overflowing” brings to mind a river that is overflowing its banks. This suggests that for us as Christians, our thanksgiving is to be a continual or a habitual thing. Each of us may well ask, ‘Am I thankful?’
17. (a) Why may it be said that we all have much for which to be thankful, even during hard times? (b) What are some gifts from Jehovah for which you feel especially thankful?
17 Really, we all have ample reason to overflow with thanks to Jehovah every day. Even in the worst of times, there may be some simple things that provide moments of relief. A friend shows empathy. A loved one offers a reassuring touch. A good night’s rest proves restorative. A tasty meal quells pangs of hunger. A bird’s song, a child’s laugh, a glistening blue sky, a refreshing breeze—all of these and more may come our way in a single day. It is only too easy to take such gifts for granted. Are they not all worthy of a thank-you? They all come from Jehovah, the Source of “every good gift and every perfect present.” (James 1:17) And he has given us gifts that dwarf these—life itself, for example. (Psalm 36:9) Further, he has given us an opportunity to live forever. In order to provide this gift, Jehovah made the supreme sacrifice by sending his only-begotten Son, “the one he was specially fond of.”—Proverbs 8:30; John 3:16.
18. How may we show ourselves thankful to Jehovah?
18 How true, then, the psalmist’s words: “It is good to give thanks to Jehovah.” (Psalm 92:1) In a similar vein, Paul reminded the Christians in Thessalonica: “In connection with everything give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:15) Each of us might resolve to be more thankful. Our prayers need not consist solely of petitions to God regarding our needs. These are fine in their place. But imagine having a friend who only talked to you when he needed something from you! So why not pray to Jehovah just to thank and praise him? How such prayers must please him when he looks down on this ungrateful world! A secondary benefit is that such prayers may help us to focus on the positive aspects of life, reminding us of how blessed we really are.
19. How does Paul’s language at Colossians 2:6, 7 suggest that we all may continue to improve in walking with Christ?
19 Is it not remarkable how much wise guidance can be drawn from a single passage of God’s Word? Paul’s counsel to continue walking with Christ is something each of us should want to take to heart. Let us be resolved then to be ‘rooted in Christ,’ “built up in him,” “stabilized in the faith,” and ‘overflowing with thankfulness.’ Such counsel is particularly vital to those newly baptized. But it applies to us all. Think of how a taproot grows down more and more and how a building under construction goes up more and more. So our walk with Christ never ends. There is ample room for growth. Jehovah will help us and bless us, for he wants us to go on walking with him and with his beloved Son unendingly.
How Would You Answer?
□ What is involved in walking in union with Christ?
□ What does it mean to be ‘rooted in Christ’?
□ How may we be ‘built up in Christ’?
□ Why is it so important to be “stabilized in the faith”?
□ What reasons do we have to ‘overflow with thanksgiving’?
[Picture on page 10]
The roots of a tree may not be visible, but they supply food to it and anchor it firmly