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Colossians 2:6-19

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.

Colossians 2:6-19

Dear God, when I read this passage this morning verse 8 caught my eye:

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather from Christ.

My initial thought went to issues like gay marriage and other issues that separate what I’ll call “fundamentalist” Christians and “moderate” Christians. Do I allow my own beliefs to succumb to the world’s views in the name of intellectualism?

My wife and I were listening to a podcast yesterday where the hosts were talking about a large church in Minneapolis that is going through a purging of some of its leadership because of the sin of “empathy.” The person who won the power struggle and forced the exit of three of the top pastors (including the head pastor) apparently feels like there is a difference between sympathy and empathy. It’s in this Christianity Today article: “Bethlehem Baptist Leaders Clash Over “Coddling” and “Cancel Culture.” Apparently, according to one side, sympathy is biblical while empathy is not biblical. As I understand the argument, empathy will lead you to disconnect from the truth as you put yourself in someone else’s place and make you more susceptible to embracing heresy in the name of love.

The argument Skye Jethani made in the Holy Post podcast was that, yes, empathy can be taken too far, but it’s no more unbiblical than is charity because sometimes charity can be abused and taken too far. He also made a really good point that the act of you coming to earth through Jesus was a pretty good display of empathy on your part.

So then I came to the second thought, which was that it is just as easy for someone to be mislead by errant “conservative” teaching as it is someone to be mislead into being too liberal. Which brings me back to verse 7 of this passage, because it is the only solution that I know to keep me right before you and doing the work you have me to do in this world:

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Father, all I really know to pray here is help me to keep plugged into you as deeply as I can. Help me to nourish the soil of my heart, weeding it from the cares of this world, so that my roots can grow deep and I can start to have the moment Neo had in the Matrix, and I start to see the world for what it really is with your perspective and not just what my eyes see it as. In this moment, I’m acutely aware of how much I need you. Please be with me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2021 in Colossians

 

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Masculinity vs. Maturity

The Holy Post Podcast, “Episode 419” (1:03:20 mark)

Skye Jethani: I’m thinking back to years ago. I was being interviewed on a Christian radio program. It went to a commercial break and during the break the host said, “Hey, when we come back I’m just going to throw some questions at you. I’d love to hear your response to them.” And I’m like, “Okay, sure.” So we come back from break and he starts talking about how effeminate Christian men have become, and how ineffective they have become and how we’re sitting around all the time just on the sofa watching TV. And we’re not leading and we’re not guiding our churches…So I’m listening to this for awhile as he’s monologuing and I’m going, how on earth am I going to respond to this? And he was putting all of the blame on feminism. And so finally he turned to me and said, “Well, what do you think about all of that?” And I tried to not completely blast him, but my interpretation was he’s attributing those negative qualities to femininity, and I said, “I don’t think it’s that men are behaving like women. I think it’s that these men are behaving like boys. That this is about immaturity, not masculinity.” And that kind of blew his mind. He had never heard that before. Because in his mental framework, there’s masculinity and femininity and that’s the spectrum. And if men aren’t behaving the way men should behave it’s because it’s because they are behaving like women. And I was saying, “No, I think it’s that men aren’t behaving the way they are supposed to behave because they’re behaving like boys. They’re immature. That axis did not exist in his conceptual framework.

Dear God, I heard this yesterday and it really gave me something to think about. Maturity vs. masculinity. In another part of this conversation they were talking about how exhibiting the fruits of the spirit can possibly come across as not being very masculine. In fact, if you express love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, and self control all of the time then it can come across as feminine and parts of our Christian culture can tend to look down on men who always exhibit those virtues.

First, let me interrupt this prayer by pointing out to you something you already know–it must be so amusing to you to see us all struggle to wrap our human minds around life and existence. We learn. We grow. We mature. And we try so hard. How often we must just look so foolish to you.

But back to my thoughts on this. When we first moved here there was a pastor at one of our town’s larger churches who was having difficulty with some of the parishioners. There was a faction within the church that I considered to be Unitarian that was trying to influence the theology taught, at a minimum, in their Sunday school class, and, at a maximum, within the entire church. As they positioned themselves against this pastor, who was trying to put an end their liberal, unChristian teaching, one of the criticisms made against him was that he wasn’t very masculine. And he was not a macho guy, but he was very masculine. He dressed nicely and wore suspenders. He didn’t care for sports. But if you decide to not care if he liked sports dressing in a more macho way, you saw a sensitive man who was compassionate and caring.

Ironically, the next pastor who replaced him was the opposite (by design). He was much more macho. Of course, the complaint about him was that he wasn’t empathetic or compassionate enough. He was insensitive. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?

Going back to this quote from Skye Jethani, what does a mature Christian man look like? What does it mean to grow up and no longer be a boy? Again, ironically, as I sit and think about it, to be a mature Christian man means to exhibit those fruits of the Spirit and put them into action. It means to wake up in the morning loving you with all of my heart, soul, and strength and then loving my neighbor as myself. It means being a good neighbor. It means working hard and being responsible and a good steward of the things you’ve given us. It means seeking out the place in the world that you have for us.

Father, help me to let go of the paradigms the world finds important and to embrace your truth. Help me to internalize that truth more and more each day so that I might find myself just living it naturally as I commune with you. Thank you for blessing the fruit of my work. Thank you for guiding me through various situations. And while I’m here, I am thinking of a couple of recent tragedies friends are experiencing. Please help them to find you through this. Make all of this pain count. There is some terrible emotional and physical pain going on. Please make it count and show me the role you have for me to play in their lives.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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