Daily Update #353

Today’s reading:

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.

Colossians 2:8

As Rosemary mentioned in yesterday’s Daily Reflection, the apostle Paul is determined to stress to the Colossian Christians that they must be firmly rooted in Christ, and continue to live in him, if they are to live out their faith.  This is key and must never be neglected.  

It seems that the Colossians were in danger of being distracted by fine-sounding philosophies, supported by fine-sounding arguments (2:4).  Taking their eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ, they were in danger of relying on these philosophies.  But what would the effect of that be?  Today’s verse underlines that anything which distracts us from Jesus, or might seek to detach us from Jesus, is merely hollow and deceptive.  Such philosophies depend on human tradition, a human understanding of the world and how it functions.  They are grounded in the ways of the world.  They cannot give life and health to people, they just bring captivity (imprisonment) and lies, seeking to distance us from Jesus and ultimately to snuff out our lives.  

Strong stuff, but surely in today’s day and age we have become more discerning, more refined.  We have nearly instant access to a wealth of knowledge and wisdom through technology.  We are relatively well educated and can work out what is hollow and deceptive.  We would never let ourselves be held captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies, surely?  

Think again!  The instant access to information has led to a profusion of apparently fine-sounding ideas and thoughts which compete for our attention.  The enemy’s strategy is clear, let’s bombard people with ideas, many with good aspects to them, and urge everyone to take their eyes off the Lord Jesus.  That way we will prise them away from being rooted in Jesus.  If this was a danger for the Colossians, it is many times worse for us today!  I have spoken to a number of Christians who were going well until they came across some captivating videos, sermons, talks, ideas, ideologies, etc. on the internet and suddenly Christ is old hat and their focus is on the new and exciting material they are receiving.  It is really easy to get distracted.  It is very hard to keep focused on the life-giving truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus.  

How can we tell when this is a risk?  The apostle shares how in this verse.  Does what you are considering take your eyes and mind off Jesus?  Does it depend on human tradition, rather than on Christ?  Is it based on the wisdom of the world, rather than on the teaching of the Lord Jesus and the whole of the Bible (all of which is about Jesus – Luke 24:25-27)?  Does it depend on the elemental spiritual forces of this world, rather than on Christ?  These forces may be spiritual powers or possibly natural forces which seem strong and reliable.  But we need to make sure we are relying on the source, which is Christ!  

There are many examples of things which are distracting God’s people from Christ at the moment.  Some are good things which are worthy of attention (e.g. the environment, social justice, equality and fairness, justice….) whereas others are more like superficially attractive human philosophies (e.g. the woke philosophy, Black Lives Matter, gender equality, gender self-determination, etc.).  As we consider them, there is a risk that we take our eyes off Jesus and pursue something which risks taking us captive, deceiving us and attempting to snuff out our life in Christ.  Let’s stand firm and be determined to obey what the apostle urges, which is to continue to live our lives in Jesus, rooted and built up in him!  

Prayer:  

Lord God Almighty, 
Thank you for calling us to new life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Help us to be wise in him, to stay firmly rooted in him and build us up in him, we pray.  
Show us when there is a risk of being distracted or pulled away, and guard us from these errors.  
We ask this for the honour and glory of Jesus Christ, who loves each one of us and who made himself nothing to redeem and save us.  

Amen

Tomorrow’s passage:  Colossians 2:9-15

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www. zondervan.com. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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