The Spiritual Sound of Unspiritual

Front cover of Ditrich Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship"

Colossians 2:16-20
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. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 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. 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.

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: “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 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.

Paul mentions in the beginning of this chapter that he’s suffering for the sake of those who don’t know him personally, so that their hearts might be encouraged, and that they might be united in love. Here, in Colossians 2:16-20, Paul gives an example of what happens to people who had lost their connection with the head, which supports (encourages), and holds together (unites) them with the Body of Christ – they become part of the shadow (vs. the substance that’s found in Christ), and their unspiritual minds puff them up with idle notions. Granted, many of these people often sound VERY spiritual, but because they’ve lost connection with Christ, their “spiritual” image is only human wisdom and empty philosophy…foolishness in the mouth of Paul.

But isn’t it interesting that we still hear about such people today? For example, “out of body experiences”, seeing auras, studying ghosts, or anything having to do with New Age stuff, and what they say sounds amazing! I’ve talked with some Christians also who, after hearing such things, wondered if they should be experiencing this stuff, also, since we’re spiritual and close to God. But that’s where the danger comes in, for we need to recognize that such people are not in line with God, but have instead “lost connection with the head.” They’re misled in their spiritualism and have even gone off-road, worshiping such things as angels (who insist that they shouldn’t be worshiped) and ghosts (which are really demons). They worship things that God created, and become foolish by the things they experience. But they’re not more spiritual because of this, but actually, according to Paul, less spiritual, or “unspiritual” because they’ve stepped away from God and, not only moved back to ground zero, but even began moving in the opposite direction, or in the language of math, ‘they’re now in the negatives.’

I think all this is good to read though, including the part about celebrating religious festivals. Because often in the past I would wonder, since Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism (and I also have Jewish ancestors), and God told His people in the Old Testament to keep certain religious festivals and such, if I should celebrate (or at least attend) such Jewish celebrations, ya know? And sometimes, when I heard about a Jewish celebration or holiday, I would wonder, “Should I participate in this? Is it bad if I don’t?” But here, Paul reminds us that doing such is no longer a requirement of anybody who puts their faith and hope in Christ, because such are just the foreshadows of Him. Remember, Christ fulfilled the Law. Therefore, we’re freed from its grasp, no longer bound by it. In other words, since we have Christ, then we don’t need to even remember the festivals of the Old Testament.

So in the same way that those who speak of extra-spiritual experiences have lost their connection with the Head, those who hold fast to such days and celebrations (see them as a requirement), also, don’t have Christ.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Timothy 4:16–“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation for yourself and for those who hear you”. Stay connected to Christ, for those who stand firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24).

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