Know anyone who has walked away from church? Religion? Jesus? Many are in America.
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
There seems to be a shift going on in America concerning how Christians view what truly pleases the Lord. For many, Christianity had been reduced to rules and pleasing those in power, so they decided to deconstruct their faith, which was supposed to allow them to hear more clearly the Spirit’s voice, but instead, they left Christ behind with the rules. I pray that they will hear His voice again and turn back to Him; He is waiting on them–no, He is pursuing them with a burning heart of love!
The truth was supposed to set us free from rules and regulations. We are to be free to love Jesus and follow Him wherever He leads. Let’s look at a passage where Paul warns the church at Colossae about listening to anyone but Jesus about what is true and what is not:
20 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: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 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. Colossians 2:20-23
While these commands could be said to apply to the Law, I believe that Paul was referring to rules that were being made up by people who were wanting to control the churches. It would be like saying, “We don’t allow women to wear pants to church,” or, “Guys must remove their caps inside the church building.” These customs may have been relevant to society at one time, but there’s nothing about them that makes us godly–other than having a humble spirit by trying not to offend. They have nothing to do with our becoming like Christ, being strong in the Spirit, or living exemplary lives.
How do we live exemplary lives? Let’s look at the next verses in the letter:
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3
Our journey is one of relationship with Jesus and companionship with like minds. If that journey leads people away from organized religion for a season, I cannot judge them. I have heard it said that in order to make an abrupt change of direction, there must be a cessation of movement. Our society is changing so fast that many people are having to come to a standstill in order to hear directions from Jesus. I pray they do not leave their faith; that road is quite bumpy and long. Instead, let’s pray for each other that we would all hear from Jesus about what is essential. Let’s work together. Anything else is counterproductive.
Abba, I noticed that in the first passage, I am dead with You to the elemental spiritual forces of this world. Thank You! I noticed in the second passage that I have been raised with You and am now seated with You in the heavens. Thank You, again! I realize that there is nothing on this earth that shakes my relationship with You. May I also realize that much of our rules we live by have to do with getting along with each other. Figuring out which ones are beneficial and which ones are harmful is where we need Your guidance day by day. Help us to determine Your truth, O Lord. You ARE Truth. Amen.