Yesterday I finally finished the Jon Krakauer book about the Mormon faith and some of the fundamentalist groups that have sprouted off of the main church. It was a well-written book, but the subject matter is truly disturbing. I couldn't wait to be done with it. Throughout the book, but especially at the end Krakauer throws in some questions about what faith really means, and how is one religion any different than another when they all, at some point, require that "leap" of faith? I say, bring on these tough questions. I want to know why I believe what I believe.
At the same time, I'm working on a study of the book of Colossians. I think Paul's letter could tackle some of Krakauer's queries. My faith is not in a religion with rules and restrictions about how to live or practice that faith. I don't have to do certain things to gain entry into heaven. My ticket to heaven is not jeopardized by my actions. Jesus died for me, (in my sinful, imperfectness) and I have accepted His saving gift of grace. My faith is in Christ.
As Paul wrote to the believers on Colossae about what he hoped his letters would do for their recipients, he said, I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ Himself. In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2&3
In following Christ, it becomes less and less mysterious, and our knowledge increases. We know God more and more. And this is accessible to any and all who want it! Here's some more verses that get right to the heart of the difference between accepting that salvation and going the next step--what it means to be a follower of Christ:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6&7
Paul explains why the following piece is important, why it's imperative to do more than just accept the gift. We need to continue following Him because Satan is working hard to confuse people. He's the Great Manipulator and King of Lies. He takes bits of the truth, and weaves lies, and selfish, human-driven ideas into it. He presents twisted versions of the truth that can sound good at first, if you aren't rooted in The Truth--Christ. That's been Satan's playbook throughout the ages. In the next verse, Paul says:
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. Colossians 2:8
I can't help but think of the Mormon church, and the wackos that have taken Mormonism to extremes, or even of some of the ideas Oprah has helped to disseminate, from The Secret or Eckhardt Tolle. These are all empty philosophies, that come from human thinking and are not of God, they are of this world. How do we know the difference? We have to be rooted in Christ and let our lives be built on Him; not a religion, not a church, or ideas, but in and on Christ.