idle notions

Read Colossians 2:16-23.

We live in a competitive, capitalist society. Our whole culture revolves around the concept of “getting ahead.” You’ve got to get “one up” on the other guy (or gal) if your business is going to move ahead. You’ve got to be perceived as “having an edge” on everyone else if you’re going to advance a rung on the social ladder, too. It all boils down to “what you know” and making sure that others know that you know it.

Such thinking isn’t unique or unusual to our culture and society; it’s been common to humankind throughout the ages. Nor is such behavior limited to realms other than religion. Indeed, a good case could be made that the most subtle and significant forms of this way of thinking and living are found in the discussion and practice of spirituality, including Christian faith.

No small number of Christians are drawn like moths to a flame to whatever appears to be the latest religious word on the street. Many church leaders enjoy being perceived as ones “pushing the envelope,” whether in doctrine or deed, speech or service. A person can often gain and retain a hearing by offering a shade of suggestion here or a seed of speculation there. One dare not be left behind by not “keeping up.” The vast majority of church splits through the ages have had someone “puffed up” at the center of it all, surrounded by admirers who took “delight” in it all.

Yes, sadly, when the essence of all things religious is ultimately distilled, what is left behind is in no small measure “merely human commands and teachings” that “lack any value.” They are simply “idle notions” that “have an appearance of wisdom,” but which are actually nothing more than calls to submit to this world’s rules. They wear religious garb, but they “have lost connection with the head,” Jesus Christ our Lord.

Such undeniable truths as these should call us to a spirit of genuine humility about all talk and action offered in the name of Christ. A humility that must begin with us.

Heavenly Father, in the name of the Great Amen, may I ever guard my tongue and vigilantly watch my ways, lest I consciously, or unconsciously, substitute this world’s ways of operation for your ways. Give me wisdom for this task, I pray, and may in the using of this wisdom, I offer all praise in return to you. So be it.

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