Today’s reading: Colossians 2:16-23
I’ve been on vacation with my family this week in the north woods of Minnesota, a place we’ve gone to my entire life. As you would expect, being there together conjures up many memories of years past. I’m sure for my parents, these memories bring a mix of emotions. Some good and some bad. For my sister and me however, the memories primarily bring laughter. Either because enough years have passed that we don’t remember the heartaches, more likely because my parents successfully shielded us from a lot of the drama that came with church leadership.
My Dad was the senior pastor of our church since I was 3 years old. Things were a lot different back in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, Mom’s rule about what we could wear to church – we had to wear skirts or dresses to church every Sunday morning. The only exception was IF the temperature was below zero. Then, and only then, were we allowed to wear slacks. My Mom didn’t really believe that God cared about what we were wearing, but she thought the rule helped teach us to bring our best to God. Throughout my childhood, I can only remember one such occasion. The weather was brutal. Funny thing is – I don’t remember lobbying my Mom to stay home out of the frigid central Illinois wind, or being grateful slacks would keep me warm on my way to worship Jesus, rather I simply relished the opportunity to show off my stylish green plaid slacks! While her rule was rooted in good intention, it didn’t really bring us closer to Jesus.
Other than the fun I’ve had reflecting on old times, why do I tell you this story? There are several of similarities to our text today in Colossians 2. Paul instructed the Colossian Christians not to let anyone judge them by what they ate or drank because Christ had set them free. While Old Testament law, religious festivals and ceremonies may have brought them closer to Christ, they were simply a means to an end. In verse 17 Paul called them a shadow of what was to come. After Jesus came and gave his life to atone for sin, faith in him became the only thing that really mattered.
Today, nothing has changed. Faith in Jesus Christ is still the only thing that matters. The Bible talks about a variety of activities and practices that are aimed at assisting us in our walk with Jesus. Please do not mistake them as a substitute for a relationship with Jesus Christ. Attending Church, praying and serving others, for example, are all good practices that can help bring us closer to Jesus and other Christfollowers. In the end, they are meaningless if Jesus is not in our heart.
Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:22-23).