ticking the boxes

Colossians 2:20-23
20 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 – 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22(referring to things that all perish as they are used) – according to human precepts and teachings? 23 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.

Why are we so keen to build up banks of rules as Christians? Is it because it makes us appear good in comparison to someone else – the appearance of wisdom? Is it because it makes us feel like we are paying something back to God – self made religion? Is it because we think we need to be punished because we were sinners – asceticism and severity to the body? We are not good in comparison to anyone else, we cannot pay God back even a fraction of what we owe, and we don’t need to be punished. Jesus dealt with all of that on the cross.  Paul says these things are of “no value” in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Has trying hard to follow lists of regulations ever resulted in someone overcoming sin? Did it make the Pharisees righteous? The only thing that can do that is Jesus.

It’s possible for me to say grace before every meal but not eat it with a thankful heart. It’s possible for me to not drink, use all the right words, not smoke, turn up to every meeting, not have a tattoo, and look like the model Christian – but be living a selfish life where I’m not surrendered to Jesus and I’m worshipping myself instead of Him. Do we want a church full of people who tick all of our boxes on what a Christian should look like? Instead, let's concentrate on the heart. Pray that that person would know more of God, not that they would dress a bit smarter for church on Sunday!