Growing in the Right Way, Connected to the Head
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
Colossians 2:16–19 ESV Read More
Spiritual growth is a funny thing. You can go after it and get a lot of things that look like spiritual growth but are really just making you selfish and worldly in a ‘Christian’ way. The Pharisees prided themselves on fasting twice a week and giving a tenth of all of their earnings to God, but their pride in those righteous acts became a hiding place. They could hide behind that self-generated righteousness and not have to face the truth of God — yet.
The people in Colossae were divided over what spiritual growth looked like. Sure, fasting from food in order to pray is a good thing, but if it makes a person proud and judgmental toward everyone else, it would be better to eat bacon sacrificed to Zeus! All of the rule-following to bring about holiness is a sham. Isaiah called all of those righteous acts the most disgusting pile of trash he could come up with. These activities puff up a person to fill them with hot air, but they are an exercise in shadows, not reality.
Real holiness and righteous living come from holding fast to the one in charge of all righteousness: Christ. He is the Head of the church and the ruler of all good deeds. If in following Christ I feel led to give up meat twice a week, then I should definitely do it. I have nothing to brag or be proud of because I’m just doing what I’ve been told. If I sacrifice myself on the shores of Africa for the sake of the Gospel, I don’t need any special honor if I’ve only obeyed my heavenly Father.
When we follow Christ, we don’t need to justify ourselves with brilliant descriptions of our calling or stories of angels speaking to us. The visions and life-changing revelations look good in movies, but in reality, the Christian life is a lot more humble than that. The substance of Christ, the body, as opposed to a shadow, is humble and not so self-serving. Sometimes there is even suffering involved, but it is so much better than the headless reality of trying to live for ourselves.
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