Comments from Colossians (2:8-10)

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:8-10; New Living Translation)

Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense. It abounds. It did in ancient Colosse. It does today.

Some people like an intellectual joust. They enjoy debating and arguing. They thrive on the stimulation of apologetics and philosophical conversations. They derive a certain satisfaction from mental gymnastics.

PhilosophyNothing has changed. Men and women have worked this way for millennia. And the Apostle Paul knew it well. But he evaluated “empty philosophy” as coming from two possible sources: prideful human thinking and/or subtle spiritual forces.

I don’t know that we can always identify the source of “empty philosophies or high-sounding nonsense.” It probably doesn’t matter. It’s the outcome that matters: Captivity. Are we captured by these things or by Christ?

In the early 19th century, a revival movement swept across the western frontier (as it was then) in the United States. The Restoration Movement called people and churches to unity. The leaders declared that creeds had hurt the cause of Christ more than they helped. Let’s have “No creed but Christ.” They urged people to abandon denominational tags and just call themselves Christians: “Christians only, but not the only Christians.

The vision caught on like wildfire; a breath of fresh air swept through the musty denominations of that day. But then some of those same Movement leaders, urging people to stand on Scripture alone, began to publicly debate their doctrinal conclusions. I suspect that those lengthy debates (sometimes days in the delivery) marked the start of the decline of the Movement, primarily because intellectual wrestling (like all competition) ultimately produces winners and losers, not disciples.

I’m not suggesting that we check our brains at the door; that Christianity is either mindless or unreasonable. Not for a moment. C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, Chuck Colson and so many others have provided extraordinary examples of Christian thoughtfulness.

Faith does not require closed minds. At the same time, however, if we settle for a Christian system or a doctrinal model that explains God and the universe quite nicely, we may partially satisfy a religious curiosity within us but we will never satisfy the longing of the soul for union with the divine.

Ultimately, our lives thrive when Christ Himself captures us, not when we finally work out how to explain Him. We experience freedom when the Lord of all creation seizes our affections and claims us for His own and we “abide in Him.”

I fully support deep teaching and Christian higher education, but when the mind gets exalted over the heart, it tends (at times) to also usurp Christ from the throne. May our words this week reflect humility, wisdom, and the language of divine intimacy; something the Apostle Paul seemed to urge from the Colossians, too.

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6 Responses to Comments from Colossians (2:8-10)

  1. Sam & Liz says:

    You are a master carpenter who knows how to hit the nail squarely on the head.
    Jesus paid a debt He did not owe…
    We owe a debt we cannot not pay.
    Jesus Christ Lord and Savor – there is nothing else available to insure/assure/ensure our forgiveness and eternal life.
    Him and only Him – serve Him.
    All else is man’s effort to detract from His Truth.
    Yes, higher education is valuable and rewarding in many ways.
    Nothing is higher then knowing we are approved by GOD’s Son.

  2. Murphy says:

    “Amen” to this blog! In the recent past, I’ve seen way too many ‘debates’ about non-essential points and consequently division is happening. I hope people start realizing the destruction that ‘being right’ can cause. Thanks for sharing this timely blog.

    • David Timms says:

      I’ve seen the same thing. “Winners and losers” rarely enhances the unity of the Body. And it’s possible to be biblically-faithful without being divisive. Let’s pray for that kind of humility to prevail! 🙂

  3. “Ultimately our lives thrive when Christ himself captures us . . .” So true!

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