Father, I long for a touch of your mercy, an experience of your grace, a sense of your unconquerable love.
Read COLOSSIANS 2:16-23
Freedom From Human Rules
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lord, you call me to seek first your kingdom and to live by its rule to love you and our neighbors. Help me to focus on kingdom positives today.
This passage really made me sit up. We see how some in the church at Colossae look down on others with spiritual superiority and a self-congratulatory humility (v 18) because they have constructed extra ways to worship involving food, drink, festivals, angels. Puffed-up minds have manufactured a form of Christianity that they offer as a better way! No wonder Paul confronts these false teachers so strongly. Any spirituality based on human thinking is not only doomed to perish (v 22), but it severs believers from the source of God’s transforming love (v 19). Human manipulation of Christianity by addition or subtraction endangers full acceptance of the saving work of Jesus. His grace is not deemed to be enough!
What made me sit up, however, was the challenge about how easily a sense of spiritual superiority can creep into the church. Extra rules can lead to the judging of others when they fail to obey them. These teachers demand a series of ‘Don’ts’ that avoid certain foods with behavior which calls for an ascetic lifestyle. Such rules may initially appear to be wise (v 23). After all, several world religions emphasize how obeying such negative commands pleases God. Ascetic behavior which may be harsh on the body (v 23) is assumed to express devotion to God. However, not only are these man-made rules destined to perish but, importantly, they make not one iota of difference to restraining sensual indulgence (v 23). I remember a minister lamenting that his church was full of rules but they didn’t make for nicer people. Only Jesus can transform us for the better.
Reflect carefully on whether aspects of our thinking tend toward spiritual superiority. It’s so easy to add extra expectations and find ourselves looking down on others.
Mighty God, it seems to be a part of my makeup to want rules to follow. Forgive me for this, and thank you for the reminder that Jesus and grace are enough.
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