The Using of “Mixed Metaphors”–
The picture above is a group of people getting ready to walk for a cause: Breast Cancer Walk. This is of importance to me in particular since my wife went through surgery and radiation treatment for breast cancer over two years ago. We both were forced to ‘walk through it.’
A mixed metaphor, in case you have no reference point, combines two or more images that don’t seem to make sense. Some examples:
“You’ve buttered your bread…now lie in it.”
“Clearly we’ve opened a Pandora’s box…of worms.”
“Burning the midnight oil…at both ends.”
“Marching to the beat…of a dead horse.”
“Robbing Peter…to pay the piper.”
The apostle Paul mixes several metaphors in Colossians 2:6-7:
“As you therefore 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” (NASB).
Many commentaries that I have read during the writing of this blog believe the theme of the entire book, is a “hinge point” of Colossians.
On The FAITH Side…
The Colossians had received Christ JESUS as Lord and Savior and they had been taught the faith.
And On the PRACTICE Side…
They needed to continue to live in Him, built up in Him; becoming strengthened in their faith, overflowing with thankfulness in their everyday and sometimes hectic lives. Boy, can we relate to the Colossians or what?
PAUL USES 6 -WORD PICTURES OF CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL PROGRESS:
“For though I am away from you in body, yet I am with you in spirit, delighted at the sight of your [standing shoulder to shoulder in such] orderly array and the firmness and the solid front and steadfastness of your faith in Christ [that leaning of the entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness]” (Colossians 2:5 AMP).
The First Word Picture–The Soldier (verse 5):
The first picture is a review “…to see how orderly you are and how firm your FAITH in Christ is“, as part of God’s Army–solidly united against the enemy–standing shoulder to shoulder. All the while as we practice discipline, we strive to obey our Commander and Chief. We’re not to battle against each other, but to do battle with each other–raising the banner or flag in serving side-by-side!
The Second Word Picture–The Power Walker (verse 6):
The Christian Life Must Be Lived Out!
How do we do that? We must go from our heads, to our hands, and then to our feet! When Paul says, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.” Paul is reminding his readers, since they received JESUS by faith, so too they must WALK BY FAITH in His power. That is the only way to make spiritual progress.
Moving with a purpose–
The verb continue; “to continue to live in Him” indicates a “continuous action”, moving in power. Remembering the day of your salvation must be a present reality in your lives. Our conduct must be consistent with His lordship and our worship should affect our walk; our practice must conform to our character, our principles, our INTEGRITY [see the Word Detective’s Archives: the post regarding INTEGRITY].
The Third Word Picture – The Tree (verse 7):
In this agricultural metaphor, just as a tree is “rooted”, we are to be grounded in the soil of God’s Word. I like to call my Bible, 66 bags of “word seed” instead of 66 books of the Bible.
The tense of the Greek word means, “once and for all, having being rooted.” Those who have truly received Christ Jesus are rooted in Him. A tree puts down deep roots to find nutrition and to provide stability in the growing.
Likewise, we must go deep with Christ to find the fuel that we need to flourish during the storms of life. This image most likely comes from the beautiful picture displayed in Jeremiah 17:8:
“For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters
that spreads out its roots by the river;
and it shall not see and fear when heat comes;
but its leaf shall be green.
It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought,
nor shall it cease yielding fruit.”
When we are rooted in a relationship with JESUS, we will have everything that we need for life and for godliness. 2 Peter 1:3declares,
“For His divine power has bestowed upon us ALL things that
[are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the
[full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us
by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).”
Just as a tree cannot thrive without any roots, we too cannot grow if we have not been grounded in “His glory and excellence.”
The Fourth Word Picture – The Building (verse 7):
Paul now moves into a construction image to show us that our foundation is built on JESUS; where we must continue to add-on, so that we’re “being continually built up in Him.”
Ephesians 2:20 says, “You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.”
At our conversion, the construction process begins with a foundation first. Then raised up and anchored with a cornerstone, helping align the whole structure in tying it together.
In the same way, as the chief cornerstone, JESUS holds everything together while providing alignment to our lives.
The CHURCH you’re attending right now wouldn’t be of much use with just a foundation in place. A foundation is only the beginning of better things to come–the base is laid in order to build a strong building.
God doesn’t want us to STOP at conversion. Instead, He desires for us to construct our lives as in… 1 Corinthians 3:12: “gold, silver, and precious stones” instead of using things that don’t last such as “wood, hay and straw.” This is in order to be strong, building with solid materials.
Again, the tense of the verb [“continually”] indicates that the building keeps on going. The Christian Life is not meant to be a one or two-story house, but rather a skyscraper that keeps going up and up!
The Fifth Word Picture – The Student (verse 7):
The next METAPHOR in place: “increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught”. We are to be students in God’s Grad School so our FAITH can be strengthened and established.
We are to be STUDENTS in God’s Graduate School–
When I mean STUDENTS in God’s Grad School, I don’t mean spending years in a Christian preschool. Hebrews 6:1-3 in The Message Bible brings word picture into focus:
“So come on, lets leave preschool fingerprinting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place…But there is so much more. Let’s get on with it!”
We are Disciples of Christ–
As STUDENTS, it becomes our responsibility to learn and know the Word of God if we are going grow in our FAITH. Being disciples of Christ, we are to be always learning and putting ourselves in an environment of study and being strengthened on a regular basis.
It is important for every believer to plug into a small group whether at church or in a neighborhood. However, you don’t want to just be a church with “small groups”… but a church that is made up of small groups.
The Sixth Word Picture – A River (verse 7):
The idea here is based on verse 7: “abounding and overflowing with thanksgiving.” Receiving instruction in biblical truth should produce inner JOY. The more we understand grace, the more gratitude we will have. JOY from Thanksgiving shouldn’t be experienced just on the Legal Holiday. It should be continual!
Kent Hughes writes, “A thankless spirit betrays a life which is no longer focusing on the greatness of Christ.” If you don’t feel like being thankful today, it is probably because you’ve taken your eyes off of JESUS and putting them on your problems instead.
A Christian LIVING IT OUT!
The two verses in Colossians 2, verses 6-7 challenges us to…
1. GROW downward–being “rooted.”
2. GROW upward–being “built up”.
3. GROW inward–being “strengthened in the faith.”
4. GROW outward–as we “overflow with thankfulness.”
As Paul mixes up his metaphors, he also changes his verb tenses in order to show what happened to us and what we are responsible for. In the list of 6 Word Pictures, I was able to find only two active verbs:
1. To live continuously in Him.
2. To be continuously thankful to Him.
Our task is to live surrendered to His preeminence, His supremacy; and to abound in giving thanks to what God has done for us in Christ.
So in Christ JESUS, have a JOYFUL THANKSGIVING THIS YEAR and in each and every day!