Colossians 2:8 (Contemporary English Version) Don’t let anyone fool you by using senseless arguments. These arguments may sound wise, but they are only human teachings.
Ever heard a smooth talker in action? Many times in my life, I have met very disingenuous people who tried to argue their own opinions as fact.
As we grow up and grow wise in life, we learn from experience those whom we can trust and those we can’t.
In the church at Colosse, the Christians were being confused and misled by people who taught that Jesus was greater than regular humans, but was not really God.
There was no evidence for this theory, but orators and debaters would try to convince people using very persuasive, albeit false arguments.
While Paul had never been to the church at Colosse, he had been nearby in Ephesus. So one of the church leaders, Epaphras, went to Paul to explain the problem, and Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians as a pastoral response to their problem.
False doctrines infiltrating the church were not just a first-century problem; they are still a problem today.
Many people believe many things about Jesus: that he was a good man, a great teacher, a miracle worker, a special spiritual being who was not really human, and the list goes on and on.
Depending on the popular teaching of the day, people spread all kinds of stories about Jesus that are just not true.
But Jesus lived so long ago, how do we know which stories are true and which are not?
The main authoritative text that we use to gauge which stories about Jesus are true is the Bible. Written by many people over many thousands of years, inspired by the same Eternal God in the form of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is the best collection of authoritative writings about Jesus that we have.
It contains eyewitness accounts of those who walked with Jesus, saw his miracles, talked to the people he raised from the dead, and saw him in his own resurrected form.
The prophecies contained in the old Hebrew scriptures point to a Messiah, one who would come to save the people and restore the world to the perfect condition that it was created to be — a world with no fighting or war, no famine or hunger, no devastation or suffering.
And while we Christians know that Jesus is that Messiah, we, along with our Jewish brothers and sisters, long for the day when the perfection of creation will be restored and we will live at peace for all eternity.
Jesus told his friends not to be persuaded by false messiahs and false teachings.
We can avoid being taken in by false teachings if we know what the Bible says and measure all teachings by its standard.
We also have the traditions of the Church over thousands of years, as well as reason guided by the Spirit, and our own experiences to help us determine what is right.
Using all four of these together, God can guide us if we trust in the Spirit’s discernment so that we don’t fall for false teachings.
You won’t be taken in or tricked by false teachings if you know the Truth. Do your homework! Have you read your Bible today?
The Rev. Jan McCoy is associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Jan McCoy. associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church. can be reached at email@example.com or at www.covingtonfirst.org.