A friend once told me how he and his wife were celebrating their anniversary in a hotel they had booked for one night. They were enjoying their meal in the restaurant which involved a very nice wine. They were not big drinkers by any stretch of the imagination but nevertheless they were secret drinkers for the vast majority of their friends were teetotal and viewed alcohol as demon-drink. The couple were enjoying their evening when all of a sudden my friend spotted 2 couples that they knew come into the same hotel restaurant. They only had a split second to decide what to do so my friend said to his wife to do what he did and follow him. He gulped down all the wine and hid the bottle out of sight. They then very quietly tip-toed and walked down the side of the bar and out of the restaurant back to their room. No one saw them. However, because he stood up so quickly and was rushing, the wine seemed to have had a bit of an effect and instead of walking past the bar he had to rest his arm on it to stop the dizziness and slid the whole length creating quite a comical scene! The picture he had created was far worse than the scene if his friends had seen him have a glass of wine in his hands. However, for him, it was worth the risk rather than face the wrath of the judging panel.
Do you fear what people think of you?
After telling the Colossian Church who Christ is and what He has done for them he then brings application and gives us a little insight into their challenges.
“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Colossians 2 v 16-17)
Clearly Paul is saying don’t let the opinions of people disturb you or threaten you.
The first century Christians were Jews who started to leave behind some of the Jewish religious laws to do with what was clean and unclean to eat and drink.
Paul is not afraid to help the Church in these matters and in 1 Corinthians 8 spends quite a lot of time explaining that Christians are free from these rules but they must be careful to try not to offend others.
The Colossian challenge seemingly was that false-teachers were impacting the Church with demands that the Christians not only watched what they ate and drank but at the special festivals and the Sabbath that they do not appear joyful and celebratory.
Joy-killers are in every generation!
The Apostle in many places is keen to stress self-discipline and control. To enter a period of fasting is good for the body and our spirit. However, Paul tells them not to listen to those who want to deny and forbid you so that you can be seen to be a more righteous person. These rules that they have known are a shadow of what they have now in Christ. The fullness of Christ is theirs. They don’t need to prove to anyone through ascetic practices that they belong. So don’t fear the opinion of others.