Christ Over Religion

*This blog post was adapted from Pastor Bobby’s sermon on 4/10/2022. You can find the sermon video below.

Have you ever been intimidated by Christians? Sometimes we find ourselves worrying about how to act, dress, or fit in with other Christians. But following Jesus shouldn’t be about acting a certain way or following a religion.

Likewise, the church should not be a place full of people who all have their stuff together – it should be more like a hospital for people who feel broken, lost, or are struggling in some way. Church should also be a place where people who are wrestling with their faith feel comfortable. It shouldn’t be intimidating or unwelcoming.

Let’s take a look at Colossians 2:16-23 and see that Christ is supreme over religion.

No Christ + Rules

In Christ, we have completeness. Colossians 2:16-17 says, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Believers should not be passing judgment on one another because of rules that have nothing to do with having a personal relationship with God. If we aren’t careful, moralism can become a monument to our own abilities.

Similarly, we should avoid blindly following religious traditions. Religious traditions and rituals are a shadow – they miss the substance if they aren’t connected to Christ.

No Christ + Spiritual Experiences

Colossians 2 continues, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (18, 19)

The word disqualify is the idea of being defrauded of your prize. When we are in Christ, the Bible tells us that we have found the treasure beyond measure. We are like beggars who have found the stash! We should let anyone attempt to rob us of that prize.

There are forms of Christianity that focus on following rigorous rules (asceticism) or having spiritual experiences. Experiences with God can be amazing, but these experiences themselves should not be our focus. We should also not discount those who do not have those experiences.

We often see people in our culture who call themselves Christians but are very self-focused. They add Jesus into their routines but their true goal is the pursuit of happiness. They might claim things like, “God will always heal those who have enough faith.” This kind of claim shows they are not “holding fast to the Head” because they aren’t considering God’s will. They are presuming to know what God will do, instead of praying that God’s will be done.

As followers of Christ, we should walk in humility. This passage in Colossians says that the whole body is held and knit together by the head, which is Christ. Every bit of spiritual growth we experience is from God, not from ourselves. Our desire to seek after God is because God gave us that desire. If our eyes have been opened to the truth of the gospel and we’re doing well on our faith journeys, it’s all because God gave us that gift.

Why Submit to Regulations?

This passage ends with an important question. “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23)

Following rules and regulations cannot save us. Even doing good things, like reading our Bibles daily, can become ritualistic if we aren’t careful. We will still miss the mark if we aren’t loving God and loving people. Legalism is a lazy form of Christianity that misses the “substance” completely.

So, since we are complete in Christ, why do we submit to regulations at all? Should it just be “anything goes?”

In Luke 18:9-14, we find a parable about two men. One of the men, a Pharisee, prayed and thanked God that he was not a sinner like other men. The other man, a tax collector, couldn’t even look up to heaven but prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Jesus ends the story by telling us that it’s the second man who walked away justified, rather than the first. The second man recognized his own brokenness and begged God for forgiveness, so he was forgiven.

A Response to God’s Love

When we recognize our own brokenness and then taste of the love and mercy of God, we will want to change the way we act. Our response to God’s love should result in the following:

Dedication to God

  • “Do all to the glory of God…” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Dedication to myself

  • “...not all things are profitable…bondage…” (1 Cor. 6:21)

Dedication to other believers

  • “...all things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (1 Cor. 10:23)

Dedication to non-believers

  • “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.“ (1 Cor. 9:19-27)

This dedication has nothing to do with checking boxes and following laws. It has everything to do with our love for God and wanting other people to be drawn into that love. That’s what the Christian walk is all about.

Mandy Youtz

Social Media Manager

Mandy manages CFC’s social media presence. She started attending CFC in 2016 after God led her to visit the church with her husband, Ben. Mandy also serves on the Writing and Research Team for the Women’s Ministry and as a preschool teacher for Community Kids. She is grateful for the opportunity to combine her love of content creation with her desire to serve the Lord. Mandy lives in Lancaster with Ben and their three girls: Elyse, Evelyn, and Ella.