Readings for the Day
1 Kings 17-19, Colossians 2
Verses for the Day
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.
Thoughts for the Day
Paul wants to encourage the new believers in Colossae that they had everything they needed in Christ, who is the fullness of deity (God). Since they had received him, they needed to stay rooted and built up in him. But the problem in the church was that some were saying that wasn't good enough. The spiritual gurus of the day were teaching that there were other mysteries that one needed to understand in order to fully understand and experience God. He warns them in this way,
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ." 2:8
The problem with all of these philosophies and rituals, which seem religious enough, is they have no power to change a person. Paul calls all these efforts at "self improvement", rules which are destined to perish. These are rules about what not to touch, taste do not handle which were only a shadow of things to come. Jesus fulfilled all these requirements and nailed our sins to the cross thus cancelling this cancelling our debt we owed because we could not keep all these rules.
While people who do these things appear to be super disciples, they really exhibit a false humility because their disciplines are all self imposed and more for impressing man, than submitting to Christ. When anyone starts making following Christ very complicated and mysterious, one needs to be very cautious about this kind of teaching. Jesus there is only one commandment we need to worry about, "Love the Lord your good with all of your heart, mind, body and soul, and love others as yourself."
How do we love God? Receive the love God has for you in Christ Jesus, and show that same unconditional love to others. There is no super mystery to this. There are no rituals or "self flogging" that makes you more of a disciple. John in his first letter says it equally as simple, "By this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. In him love of God is truly perfected."
Let's be careful here. This is not saying we get God's approval by keeping his commandments. We keep them because we have his approval. Later in chapter 4 he makes it clear when he writes,
"And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us."
So if you want to get really spiritual believe in Jesus and love others the way he loved you by dying on a cross for you. This is no mystery, don't listen to anything else.