CHRISTIANITY OR CHRIST?
"Let no one therefore judge you in eating and in drinking or in respect of a feast or of a new moon or of the Sabbath, which are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ." Col. 2:16, 17
"And He is before all things . . ." Col. 1:17a
The Colossian believers had abandoned their pursuit of Christ to chase shadows. They had heard the true gospel from Epaphras (Col. 1:5 - 7). This gospel was the same gospel preached by Paul of Tarsus. This gospel was not about a thing. This gospel (or good news) was not about an 'it.' This gospel was not about anything. This gospel is a Person: the very Person of the Lord Jesus Christ! Paul said that he preached this Person (I Cor. 1:23; I Cor. 2:2; Gal. 1:15 - 16; Phil. 1:18). He preached this Person as the good news to mankind.
But the Colossians left the one true gospel for other things. These "things" were only shadows of the reality, that is, Christ Himself. They got into matters of the Jewish law, holy days, the Sabbath, and so on. And these things or shadows became their new religion.
The Religion of Shadows
Life can never be found in things but only in a Person (John 5:39, 40). And it's a very sad fact that most Christians still have not discovered this truth.
We have built a religion based upon the foundation of shadows. Pretty flimsy I would say! We have built a religious system based upon teachings, methods, and programs. All of these are 'things' and 'its' and not the reality of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I say "we," I am referring to most believers down through the centuries who have (unknowingly) built the religion of Christianity. Webster defines Christianity as "the religion of Christians, or the system of doctrines and precepts taught by Christ; conformity to the laws and precepts of the Christian religion."
Sadly, most Christians today would agree with that definition. And so would I. That is the Christian religion. That is Christianity. So under this definition and description I must declare to you that I have once and for all time rejected Christianity! But Milt, you may be saying, have you rejected the doctrines and precepts taught by Christ? No I have not. But I have rejected the idea that the teachings of Christ can be separated from the Person of Christ. The teachings or doctrines are there to point us to the Person. The teachings within themselves are not the goal. The Person is the goal!
So we have created this system called the Christian religion or Christianity and it has become just another "thing." Jesus never started the Christian religion. He never started any religion. He only pointed people to the only Way to the Father. And then He told us that He is the Way. The problem with religions is that they all point to a teaching, a concept, a philosophy, a method, or a program to help you reach spirituality or your acceptance with God. But Jesus only pointed to a Person.
The All in All
Paul told the Colossians that all the fullness of God was found in only one place. That place is inside of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19). He is everything that everyone is looking for. The letter to the Colossians points the believers to this glorious and awesome Person.
This wonderful Person is:
- The allotted portion of the saints
- The Image of the invisible God
- The Firstborn of all creation
- The One in whom all things were created
- Our redemption
- The One in whom, through whom, for whom all things were created
- Before all things
- The One who holds all things together
- The Head of the Body, the church
- The Beginning of the New Creation
- The Firstborn of the dead
- The One who must have first place in all things
- The One in whom all the fullness dwells
- The One who reconciles all things to Himself
- The Word of God
- The Mystery hidden from the ages
- The Hope of glory
- The One in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge
- The Soil we are rooted in
- The Substance of the shadows
- Our Life!
This glorious Christ is so much bigger than any mere religion! No religion can contain Him. No doctrinal system can define or explain Him. No set of things or 'its' can ever confine this unlimited Christ. Even your thoughts and ideas about Him can never restrain this all sufficient Person. The confines of man-made religion (including Christianity) can never harness the Christ who is before all things. No thing can contain this vast Christ, and, anything less than Him will never satisfy the human heart.
Yet we continue to settle for lesser things. We continue to settle for things about Him instead of just Him. We continue to live in the shadows instead of the substance. I don't know about you, but I am tired of living in the shadows. I want to live in reality. I want to grab hold of the substance of this Person. I desperately want to live this Christ who is the All in all!