“These are only a shadow of the future; the reality is Christ.” Col 2:17 (Simple English Bible)
When a new pastor was hired by the church. he instituted a regimen of fasting. At first, it was voluntary, a once a month event but then, it was changed to one a week. The initial thought was that Christians needed to focus on God and not be so reliant on food and thinking about food. As time went on, the pastor insisted that everyone participate in fasting — it was Scriptural and the right thing to do. He criticized those who didn’t fast from the pulpit.
After a few members left the congregation, the regimen became stricter. Those who didn’t fast or do it correctly, were only second-grade Christians. Eventually, a contact was passed out for people to sign as a covenant to God! Those who didn’t were obviously not concerned for the ways of God.
Paul wrote clearly in the letter to the Colossians that these religious rituals were only a shadow of reality. Our reality is Christ, not the sanctimonious arrogance of performing a ritual. Jesus asks His believers to serve others, help the helpless and be merciful to those who are hurting. That’s where we belong!
“So, my dear brothers, be firm and don’t be moved. Always be doing something for the Lord. You must realize that your hard work for the Lord will not be without meaning.” I Cor 15:58 (Simple English Bible)
The Bible had been carefully hidden under the floorboards in the small apartment. It had to be because of the communist suppression in the country at the time. Grandfather was the only one who read it secretly and out of all his children and grandchildren, only one would sneak off and listen while he whispered the Scriptures carefully. When his grandfather died, Bob (not his real name) cherished the simple gift of that old Bible under the floorboards.
Bob studied hard, studied the Word whenever it was safe and when an opportunity came to study overseas in a Western country, he leaped at the chance. The first day he arrived, he called a pastor and asked to be baptized. It had been his dream for many years. Bob earned his degrees — BA, MA, PhD — and now teaches. He works hard in the local church and has brought many to Christ. Out of everyone in his family, he is the only Christian.
Bob’s grandfather considered himself a failure — only one studied the Scriptures with him. But it made a major difference in the lives of those people who came into contact with Bob.
I don’t think Grandpa was a ‘failure’? Do you?