The following parable is not original. It was a story the writer heard many years ago, but its meaning is relevant to our studies in Colossians. So it is offered here as a backdrop to them.
The boat trip
Ian, who lived in the middle of the country, decided to take his family on holiday to the seaside. Whilst there he took his family on a boat trip around the coast. It was small vessel, with enough room for about 20 people. The crew consisted of one man, the captain.
As the boat went round the coastline the captain would briefly talk about the local areas of interest, giving some of its history. However there was a house on the cliff edge and the captain needed to stop the boat in order to give the relevant talk. He had a problem, he could not give a proper talk about this house and keep the boat in one position at the same time. So he asked for a volunteer to help him. To the dismay of his wife this Ian volunteered.
The captain asked if he had any experience with boats. On hearing that he hadn't the captain gave instruction:
"You need to keep the boat in one position, and not allow it to drift off. To that end hold the wheel and keep you eyes on a fixed point. If the boat drifts, move the wheel so that your eye returns to the fixed point."
Ian acknowledged the captain and assured him that he would keep the boat in the same position as instructed. The captain then proceeded to give his talk. After a few minutes he noticed that the boat had moved from its position and was drifting. He went to Ian and demanded to know what was going on. Ian said that he had followed his instructions: he kept his eye on one fixed point.
When asked what the fixed point was, Ian replied to the captain: " that cloud over there!"
The meaningThe Christian life is centred on Jesus. We are exhorted in scripture to look unto Jesus, and take our eyes off other people and things (Heb12:1-2). He is the one true fixed point, He does not change (Heb.13:8). Clouds of various shapes sizes and interests may come along, and if we turn our eyes to them we will veer off course and eventually, if persisted in, lose sight of Jesus completely.
The Colossians were in such danger; they had been established and were going on strongly in the faith, but Paul found it necessary to warn them, for the false teaching around them was subtle and very appealing to the natural man. As we turn our attention to this epistle let us be determined to take its message, its warnings and exhortations to heart so that we shall ever keep our eyes on Jesus.