16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Most translations of this passage begin by saying “don’t let any one judge you” or words similar to that. My favourite translation says, “don’t let anyone condemn you…” to which my immediate response is Rom 8v1 “there is therefore now NO condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus”. And this is what Paul is talking about here is Colossians.
I remember growing up in a time when there were a lot of good traditions and habits that “kept us on the straight and narrow”. But as I grew up, they really were more about controlling behaviour, you obeyed to stay out of trouble and to keep parents and leaders happy. Pleasing God was not even mentioned. Being a Christian was more about restrictions than freedom. The Christian life was more don’ts than do’s.
Rules and traditions and making sure you obeyed the laws, while the original intention was good, had become empty of life. It was disconnected from Christ. It was hard work, and demotivating. Paul says all that is a shadow of the reality.
Don’t focus on the shadow, focus on what casts the shadow.
What we do, or don’t do, must flow from a relationship with Jesus, “…and it grows as God nourishes it”. Being in relationship with Jesus brings life, brings liberty and freedom. Don’t let anyone put you in chains of traditions and formalities. It’s not what you do that is important, it is who you are – you are in Christ.
Thank you, Jesus for setting us free, for loving us and calling us friend.
Written by Andrew Martin