And you — being dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh — He made alive together with him, having forgiven you all the trespasses, 14having blotted out the handwriting in the ordinances that is against us, that was contrary to us, and he hath taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross; 15having stripped the principalities and the authorities, he made a shew of them openly — having triumphed over them in it. 16Let no one, then, judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths, 17which are a shadow of the coming things, and the body [is] of the Christ; – Colossians 2:13-17
In Galatians chapter 3 Paul says the the law was a tutor to lead us to Christ. In the above passage Paul also speaks of the the law and the habits of old testament tradition as being a shadow of what was to come, namely the Christ.
A gigantic shift occurred from Old to New Testaments, the physical positioning of a religion took on new life from the life giving messiah, Jesus Christ. No longer having to study the shadow, the Christ has now arrived. No longer is there distance between God and man that would need men to remind themselves of who God is; God, through Christ has given Himself to the people to be in and among them. No longer is it about a single location of religion, it transitioned into an eternal multi-dimensional Kingdom being established right here and now. (Matt. 10:7)
Often times, Jesus taught of living out our love for God in the secret places. He said in Matthew 6, “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Jesus was teaching that what went on in the unmentioned places of our hearts was more important that in what happened in public.
Jesus did not go to the religious and and perpetuate their religiosity. He went to the lowly and broken, the drunkard, and the slut; the sinner. One time the religious saw Jesus hanging out with these folks and they said, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” I believe that they were really baffled by the way Jesus cared for people.
I believe Jesus did not perpetuate an external religion; but by His cross and resurrection He infiltrated every facet of real life, not just religious life. No longer being confined to holidays, and sabbaths, new moons, or special feasts. He now walks with men on a daily basis. Men don’t have to be reminded that God is present, they gather together to encourage one another, pray for one another, to share with one another. The gathering is unification of what is already here, not a shadow of what is to come full of pretension. It’s a celebration and an exportation of the now.
No one is safe from being touched by the creator now. He is out and about, and He is a wild lover. He is going out to the “highways and byways” inviting us all to walk with Him.
Compared to what Christ and the early church did, and the way He IS infiltrating every facet of humanity, our religious systems have gone a little rouge from Christ. I’m not exactly sure how it’s happened, I place blame on our cunning adversary, but the fruit of our current christianity is external and superficial. We’ve kind of backtracked, we have a greater ability to become like the religious critics of Jesus than to become like Jesus Himself.
Truth be told, the demand Jesus put on His disciples was greater than the demand of Moses disciples. Jesus called all who wanted to follow Him to pick up their crosses and follow Him, in other words to face death head on, giving up their own lives. And as a result gaining the eternal Kingdom life right now and forevermore. Jesus was challenging folks to quit just going through the motions of the shadow and take on the real thing. He was tearing down the temple where men met and began meeting in their bodies so that they might take His Kingdom to the lowest and darkest places of the world. In other words Jesus gave life to men to embark upon establishing a Kingdom, not to live for religious fame.
This may sound like an odd thought, but what I’m trying to get across is that Jesus didn’t die for you to become strangely religious and incompatible with those around you. He died so that you would become renewed by His life, more able to interact with the world around you. He didn’t redeem you to hide you away amongst the pharisees, He redeemed you to stand right up in the “dark” places and shine your light. He called you to become full of His compassion and character so that the world would know that God is alive and that Jesus Christ is His son.
I think that this looks much more ordinary that we would like to think that it does. I believe we become so very tangible and present that the “sinner and tax collector” would want us around. They like us, and we just happen to perform the miracles of God in their midst because God loves them.
It’s time to quit hiding from the call to give God our hearts. Honestly, doing religion is more of a bondage than living for ourselves. Both of them have no life in them. God wants relationship with you, on a practical and real level. We have to quit reserving parts of ourselves from Him and begin to give them back to Him. The joy of our lives lie in the balance.
Today, may you feel the freedom to love God and love those around you. May you find yourselves spending time with people who might make you uncomfortable. And may the love of God pour through you and give you the joy that He reserves in those relationships.