See that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men and the basic principles of the world rather than Messiah. For all the fullness of Deity lives bodily in Him, and in Him you have been filled to fullness. He is the head over every ruler and authority.
Colossians 2:8-10 (TLV)
Paul wastes no time here. He doesn't try to play to culture, or to man-made religion, or to people's fancies.
He elevates Christ as "Messiah" and "the fullness of Deity." In other words, Jesus is all you need to live a full life in God. He is the King of kings.
But, it seems the Colossians had been stacking much upon the Gospel, mixing and mingling it with some bits of culture here and chunks of politics there until palatable enough to swallow.
That's great for your favorite ice cream parlor, but dangerous to the purity and the power of the Gospel.
Now, if Paul were still here and wrote a "Letter to the Americans," what would he say is crowding our gospel?
After all, Gospel means "Good News."We're all spreading a message to the world.
So, what's America's gospel?
Here are a few "gods" we allow to crowd the true Gospel...
1. Political Fervor
Political zeal and misplaced nationalism consume many in our culture.
Jesus had to live within 1st Century religious-political tensions as well: The power of Rome and Caesar on one hand, and the power of the Temple and Jewish leaders on the other.
He recognized some authority of the government, yet exalted the Father above all else.
Remember the story about paying taxes? Jesus didn't argue. Instead, He answered…
“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Matthew 22:21 (ESV)
That tax money may have represented a small portion of wealth due to a corrupt leader.
But, the whole of a person?
The Creation itself?
Our hearts and and our minds?
Who do these belong to?
Jesus gave the clearest answer.
Yet, our political leaders would have you think they hold your future, your wellbeing, your peace, and your wholeness in their hands. That your success is tied to their gospel.
We may feel Politician A or Politician B is our personal messiah. However, Paul tears down this false political gospel.
Jesus "is the head over every ruler and authority."
2. The Cult of Personalities
This is a subtle one, even in the Church.
We draw near to icons and leaders we deem worthy to follow. We cling to their messages (or gospels) because they align with our affinities and fringe beliefs.
You can dig up any number of talking heads, pundits, "fact-based" articles, or viral YouTube videos to shout your version of the world.
But, have you dug into the Scriptures, toiled for the truth, and elevated the glory of Christ first?
To be honest, I've completely failed at this sooo many times.
I had to delete my Apple News app because I found myself checking my algorithm-based news feed (made to fit my biases) and fuming first thing in the morning rather than shoring-up my faith in Christ.
"But, have you dug into the Scriptures, toiled for the truth, and elevated the glory of Christ first?"
Right now, we all need some endurance.
We all need rest in the real truth.
Cling to the fullness of God, Jesus Himself, not the cult of personalities out there.
3. Social Insulation
Ever see someone blow insulation into your attic? Here in Florida, without at least a nice three-feet-deep layer of that pink insulation, you're gonna melt in the summer.
- Likewise, we blow emotional insulation all around to shield us from the pain and needs of others.
- We layer rhetorical insulation all over social media to block having to deal with real conversation or empathizing with another's perspective.
- Worst of all, we shred-up the teachings of Christ and blast them into the open as we spew verbal insulation against our fellow humans made in the image of God.
The anger, malice, and twisting of truth I've witnessed on social media have broken my heart. The amount of insulation being layered out there is horrifying.
As Christians, we follow one King. The Bible states says we must live our lives like Him.
It's easy for me to be angry at the things out there, but I have to always remind myself to look in here first...
- From whom have I insulated myself?
- Whose needs am I missing?
- Am I finding opportunities to really listen...and then listen some more?
- Am I throwing out the insulation of my heart to make room for the humility of Christ?
The Fullness of God
In the end, God will be victorious. He will establish His Kingdom where all nations and ethnicities will enter and worship Him.
The Bible is super clear about God's climax of history. God will be with humanity in a restored Creation where no evil exists, nor racism, nor misguided nationalism. Instead, God will "wipe every tear away." God will be the light, and the Lamb (Christ) will be the "lamp" to all to the world.
What are you doing right here and now to work toward that reality?
For if Jesus is "the fullness" of God and the one true Messiah, how are you living your life under His rule?
There are many American gods out there aside from these three, but I believe these three are trying hard to crowd the message of the true Gospel.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ:
Fight for the character and glory of Christ, not these American gods.
Love and act humbly. Don’t mirror the cult of personalties surrounding you.
When history's curtain rolls up at the restoration of all things, what will have been your part in living out the true Gospel?
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