Horoscopes, mysticism, Chinese fortune cookies, yoga, and New Age influenced philosophies…
Can we use them to advance our knowledge? Can we adopt the good, motivational parts of the world to under-gird our faith in Jesus? Is there any room for an overwhelming emotional experience that forces an involuntary response to strengthen our faith?
A popular devotional writer wrote her salvation experience this way, “Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, “Sweet Jesus.” This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to him.”
I have never had an experience like that. Is something wrong with my faith?
I long for deep relationship with God, but I have never had an involuntary response. Deep regret, guilt, shame, and humility marks my conversion experience. There was no warm mist. Daily agony over my continued pride disrupts anything involuntary. Nothing else works for me except deliberate submission to the Savior, where I wrestle with my will, thoughts, and emotions to bring them under the headship of Christ. Why isn’t my faith easier? The book of Colossians gives many answers to whether or not we can use worldly philosophies to strengthen faith in Christ.
The church has been fighting a few major philosophical fallacies since it’s foundation. These problems crop every generation compelling us to study Colossians, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 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,” (Col. 2:6-8).
Paul uses the word deceptive. If God, through the shed blood of Christ on the cross, transferred us from this dark world into the kingdom of light, then how easy is it for us to be deceived by the darkness we once lived in. When tragedy strikes we use our own reasoning to make sense of our suffering. We use man-made philosophies to fill the bareness of our hearts. Letting go of our patterns that soothed us in our past frightens us. The idea that we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) in Christ and that we only need to learn to appropriate what we have seems too good to be true. We easily synchronize human traditions with our faith.
It makes sense. It was no different for the people of Colossae in Paul’s day. His solution was “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God,” (Col. 3:1-3).
How do we do this? In a series of blog posts, I will unpack the book of Colossians, so that we can be rooted and built up in Christ, abandoning our man-made traditions.