Therefore don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his fleshly mind. He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth from God. (Colossians 2:16-19, HCSB)
One of my professors liked to remind us: whenever you see a “therefore” you should find out what it’s there for. Here, Paul starts verse 16 by building off of his soaring statement in 2:13-15 (see last week’s Catalyst). Namely: OUR religious righteousness amounts to nothing…HIS righteousness as enacted on the cross is all-sufficient.
But Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough for some in Colossae. They were teaching Jesus Plus… Jesus + dietary laws, Jesus + religious holy days, Jesus + knowledge, Jesus + angels, Jesus + visions. Paul says that the irony of such false teaching (we call it the “Colossian Heresy”) is that though it sounds very spiritual, it is in fact fleshly.
How do we get to that place of syncretism (Jesus +)? Sometimes we get there by elevating our personal theologies. Sometimes we get there by having a low view of Jesus. Either way, Paul says we’ve not “held on to the head.” Where I come from, the body without a head is a horror story! Likewise, the church without Jesus is just as horrific.
Since we only “know in part” this side of heaven, none of us will have the perfect theology. So the best thing we can do is to hold on to the head as tight as possible…dropping all our “pluses” as unnecessary for our salvation, and letting Jesus be “above all” in our thinking.