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Category: the Bible


ColossiansThis morning I was reading Colossians 2 and verse eight stood out to me. This verse has been highlighted in my Bible for years now. Many years ago, as I spoke with a friend who was leaving his wife this passage came to my attention as my friend used all manner of worldly thinking and ideology to justify and explain to me why he had suddenly lost interest and was no longer in love with his wife. He used philosophy and so-called wisdom based on the elemental principles of the world as his basis for why what he was doing was not only ok to do, but the only right thing to do. I believe was taken captive by a philosophy which was unable to provide any legitimate substance or foundation for rational thinking.

We have to tendency to lean towards philosophies or ways of thinking that allow us to justify our actions. We tend to use our desires and actions to interpret Scriptures, rather than allowing Scripture to interpret how we should live. This is what my friend did. This is why Paul cautions us to not be taken captive by hollow, empty, deceitful philosophy. That sentence was very loaded. Let me try to break it down.

Paul warns us to not be taken captive. In the original Greek language, which Paul would have written this, the idea is to not be robbed. He says, look out, keep watch so that you may not be robbed. Don’t let your clear, rational thinking be taken captive or robbed from you. Do not let your thought processes be hijacked and stolen from you. Use your critical thinking and rational thought skills (which I would argue are inherent, built-in aspects of our existence thanks to being made ‘in the image of God’ who possesses critical thinking and rational thought) to see through the empty philosophy.

Paul says, what has taken us captive is empty or hollow. The word is empty, meaning there is nothing to it. No substance. Hollow. Valueless, no merit, nothing inside. As I glance across my desk I see my coffee mug. It is empty. There is nothing inside it. Right now, that has no value. It has nothing in it. At 0646, the mug might as well be dead to me. The mug has zero value to it, because the value it brings is contingent upon Empty mugwhat fills it. Philosophy, a word we get by through the combining of one of the Greek words for ‘love’ and the Greek word for ‘wisdom’, so the loving of wisdom must have substance to it. The philosophy or the train of thinking about wisdom have be full of something, not hollow or it is useless.

Paul goes on to describe the philosophy which has taken us captive as deceitful. In the original Greek text, the words empty and deceit follow each other. The text literally reads, empty deceit according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world. There is much here, but I want to focus on the deceitful aspect. What makes it deceitful? Its emptiness. The fact that it is hollow and promises what it can not deliver. Just like my coffee mug is deceiving into thinking it has value, when it does not because it is empty. So is the philosophy which has bewitched us. It promises big, but delivers nothing. It is deceit because it has no value or substance to it.

It would be presumptuous for me to speak for you, but I don’t want to be taken captive by anything let alone anything which is empty or hollow. Imagine waking up one day, years from now and realizing you have been chasing a hollow, empty dream. Your whole life, everything you put into that pursuit is wasted, all for nothing. Paul is giving us a wake up call to pay attention to the things we place our trust in and what we rely on. Are we trusting in philosophies which are empty and deceitful because they are empty? Are we placing our trust in something of value, something which is not empty? Clearly, Paul is making a subtle argument for placing one’s faith and trust in God and relying on him to find the values and meaning we need to navigate through life. Trust in God is the only thing in the end providing the lasting meaning we crave. There is no other philosophy or tradition providing meaning and purpose equal to what God provides, because God has no equal.

We need to heed the warning and not allow ourselves to be taken captive by empty, deceitful philosophy. We need to place our faith, hope and trust in God each day. We need to allow the Word of God to light our path and direct our steps. (Bet you didn’t expect a theology lesson this morning!)

What empty, deceitful philosophy do you let creep in and distract you?

Bible is lightsaber



I was beginning my journey through Bible college and into ministry in the mid to late nineties, which means the seeker-sensitive movement was really big in churches. I’ve never been much of a supporter of the seeker movement. Truthfully, I thought it really missed the mark.

On the tail end of the seeker movement, postmodernism swept in. It’s almost as though the seeker movement was the last ditch effort of modernity to keep a foothold…

I bought the postmodern mindset hook, line and sinker. I would like to think I was ahead of time in this… but unfortunately my journey kept me out of the limelight and off center stage of this discussion. Despite that, I have believed for years people desperately want to be connected. This is one of the things defining the postmodern mindset, the need to feel connected, to have relationships, to be in community, to be a part of something.

This is a universal truth about human beings. This is why I bought the postern thinking, it was one of the first church growth perspectives that took seriously the basic need of humans to connect with each other.

We all want to belong. We all want to be a part of something. We all crave a family, a place where we matter… a place where we mean something to someone. In Genesis God said ‘Let us make man in our image’ (emphasis added), indicating God himself has a communal dynamic to his personality. I would argue, this communal dynamic is the part of his image we are created in which causes us to crave interaction and community with others. So when I say it is a universal truth, I mean to say I believe it is hard-wired into every human being to connect with others.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of this. I was at a meeting for child welfare workers and a new mentor program was being presented by the host of the meeting. In speaking about the mentoring program, she said, ‘the boys in foster care especially are looking for someone to hang out with them.’ I thought, she is dead on. They want someone to hang out wight hem, because this is what we all want at our deepest core of who we are as humans. We want to be connected.

When we are disconnected it feels wrong. It feels out of place.

Numerous musician-theologians over the years have keyed in on this fundamental design within us. We desperately desire to be connected. This is why we must take seriously verses like James 1:27

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Orphans and widows have a difficult time being connected due to a loss of their primary method of connection – family. Jesus calls us to be family to those who don’t have family. It is our responsibility as Christ-followers to help those who are disconnected to connect. Of created us for connection, for community.

There is no greater act of love we can show those who are disconnected but to connect with them and become the family they are missing.  Without community we can’t survive. Literally, our physical and neurological bodies crave the stimulation that can only be had from others.

What are you doing to connect and create community with others?

Theology on Tap – Why is the Bible so Questioned?

The next topic we attempted to cover was why the Bible is so questioned.  This discussion was easily answered as we all were able to realize that the Christian makes claims that no other spiritual text makes – it is right and all others are wrong.

On the surface this seems like a harmless but then you realize that it necessarily discredits every other world religion in one fell swoop.  If any of the Bible is true, then it all has to be true (according to its own internal measure) or none of it is true. If then, the Bible is true then no other religion is true.  They may have good things to add to the discussion, but none other than Jesus Christ can get you in Heaven.

The crux of salvation lies in how you trust or distrust the Bible.

Do you trust it is or true, or do you question its authenticity?

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