Gather • Devotion #4: Holding Fast to the Head
Dr. Randy T. Johnson
“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. 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.” Colossians 2:16-19
In Colossians, Paul was challenging the believers about feeling defeated or distracted by man-made rituals. People were keeping score of how good or at least how much better they were than others (in their own minds). In the midst of this discussion, Paul points out that they are “puffed up without reason.” Ephesians 2:8-9 discusses this dangerous mindset, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This is serious because when we focus on ourselves, we are not “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). It should always be all about Jesus. The second problem arises out of the first.
Some of the people were so focused on themselves that they were “not holding fast to the Head.” In John 15:5, Jesus says it this way, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” If we are not “plugged in” to the energy source, we are fruitless. Without fruit, we have lost our purpose.
My older sister passed away eight years ago. When she was fifteen months old she contracted Encephalitis. She medically died, but my father revived her. Although she physically grew, she never had the mind of one over ten months old. Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain; therefore, oxygen cannot get to the brain. My younger sister and I gained a special appreciation for those who are challenged in various ways. Medically, we learned that being separated from the head is deadly.
Spiritually, this is true. All too often believers think they can walk and even worship on their own. They feel they do not need the church or other believers. In essence, they become separated from the Head. The church is the body of Christ, but they dislocate themselves and can become “puffed up without reason.”
Believers need the church and the church needs all believers. We all have gifts and talents that are needed by others. Every part of the body is important and needs to stay connected. As we gather together as the body of Christ, we grow “with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19).