Once upon a time, the Pastor and I had lunch with a woman who spent most of our hour together extolling the virtues of her divorce.
She had finally left her husband — one who was a simple provider to her family and who had never been unfaithful to her — and it had brought her So Much Life! She could really Find Herself Now. And those weekends without her young kids around! They gave her so much Freedom to Do the Things She Always Wanted.
In the early verses of Colossians 2, Paul mentions his struggles on the church’s behalf so that their hearts may…reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
His reason for telling them his desire is plain: I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments (Colossians 2:4).
The Colossians lived in a place not unlike our own — pitfalls of promises, products and spiritual illusions that claim peace for us — the answers to mysteries and the whispers of secrets revealed.
Leave there, buy this, do that, click here, and you will find your rest, your truth, yourself.
But Paul warns them not to be “deluded.” In the Greek, that’s paralogizomai.
It’s a two-part word:
Para means “near.”
Logizomai means “what’s real, the facts, the truth of the matter.”
Delusion, paralogizomai. Near reality, but not reality. That’s the danger we face. Paul struggles, he prays, he points his readers to Christ, not because the paths they choose from are far away from the truth, but because they seem so close.
So near, but so not.
Much of the pain in our lives is caused by pitching our tent in the near but not.
We go for “sounds best” — coating God’s blessings of peace and rest with our own broken wisdom.
We select the first ragged lifeboat of working harder or giving up or feeding addiction that floats by, instead of pressing into the One who calms the seas.
We choose the “way that seems right to man but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 16:25).”
But no, the Bible says, the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery are found in Christ alone. These riches are never uncovered in what feels right, seems right, looks right; they are found by pursuing Christ over convenience. They hold eternity in their depths — infinite glory that outweighs temporary highs.
To be a part of what is real, we must learn to act on what is eternally true, not on what is momentarily true.
It’s so easy to think we have found real truth because we have found some peace or love or rest for a time. This is the danger of near but not — we nibble at His blessings but never taste Christ Himself.
Scripture warns us a great deal about near but not:
hearing without doing (James 1:22)
sorry without repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10)
sacrificing without loving (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
leading without humility (Philippians 2:1-11)
praying without trusting (James 1:6)
knowing without obeying (1 John 2:4)
discipleship without denying ourselves (Mark 8:34-36)
The Pastor and I listened in sadness to our friend as she built the case for her decisions (free tip: if you have to spend a lot of time convincing yourself you’re doing what’s right, you probably aren’t). She was treading water in the near but not, hanging on to shallow blessings but forsaking the all deepest places where Jesus Himself dwells forever in glory — covenant, love, sacrifice, grace, transformation.
We can never know real truth without diving deeply into the One who is Truth (John 14:6) — the Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Let us press all the way to the end of our choices, and let us belong to all that is eternally real.
If you want more joy, you have to plan for it.
Grab my free printable Daily Joy Planner page with some tips and hacks for more happy and more focus every day.