The False Teaching
Grant Younger of Columbia, MO, USA
Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God. -Colossians 2:18-19
The writer of Colossians was attempting to refute a false teaching cropping up in the church in Colossae. The exact nature of this teaching is hard to pin down, but according to these verses, it constituted an unhealthy concentration on the physical world. The teaching apparently advocated strict adherence to calendar and to dietary restrictions. The basic idea seems to be that if you do everything right in this physical world, you will be enlightened about the spiritual world.
The writer states that this idea is a shadow. While seemingly wise, it is of no spiritual value to its practitioners. The extreme denial of physical reality does not even check the impulses its adherents claim it does. These rules and restrictions are made by humans and, therefore, avail nothing for the practitioner.
Wow! Glad we don’t have to deal with this false teaching now. Obviously there are no man-made societal structures that attempt to regulate and deny the physical world for false promises of something of value in our age. Thank goodness we don’t have to deal with things like patriotism or nationalism or racism today!
Of course, we do have to deal with these things! Our society is full of teachings that restrict a Christian’s ability to live the Christ-like life. The admonition in these verses is just as useful now as it was when these words were penned. We as Christians have died to the world’s controlling influences and can live freely for Christ.
So why do we resubmit ourselves to these elements? Why do we look at a beggar and judge his situation by the world’s standards? Why is our cultural bias often stronger than our Christian conviction? Why do we embrace the false teaching of our age? May God help us remember that we have been freed from the powers of this world. May God help us remember that these false teachings are empty and we are free to follow the example of Jesus Christ.
“…all things in God and God in all things” (Mechthild of Magdeburg).
Reflecting on Presence
Breathe deeply and become present to the Presence with you here and now. Take a few moments in the silence to reflect prayerfully on the following questions:
Where have you been aware of God’s presence in your life?
What is God’s invitation to you in this story?
How do you desire to be more open to God’s presence and invitation tomorrow?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.