"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." - Colossians 2:16-17 ESV
Last night I struggled as I tried to learn a new song on my clarinet. The song was a recognizable one so you could hear it and recognize it even though I stumbled through and made a mess as I went. This morning as I read this passage and try to understand I draw a parallel. The music written on the page is the substance. It is right and unchanging. My practice is the shadow of things to come. It is imperfect now but will one day come to a fruition.
The word substance is sōma (Strong's G4983) which is literally translated body and that adds a whole new dimension to the passage because the body is a group interaction and not an individual dynamic.
"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 2:18-19 ESV
Deep isn't it?
Paul is now exposing group interactions and showing a counterfeit dollar bill and explaining what to look for to spot that it is not the real thing. When we walk into the assembly is there 'body life'? Has the teaching of the substance produced a social substance in the group? The social or corporate substance reveals where Jesus is in relationship to that Church. People miss the mark. They ascribe importance to things that are not that important. Jesus is the head. He needs to be the focus.
Angels are perfect beings but they are not to be worshiped. We don't worship performance either. It is funny but those two things are linked. People want to rid themselves of their humanity and Jesus becomes too human to be central. Let it not be so! Jesus is our picture of perfection and angels marvel as they peer in at the grace given to us and what that grace accomplishes.
"A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore." - Psalm 133:1-3 ESV
Divine culture flows down from anointed leadership and the doctrine distills like dew. Dew doesn't distill inside an insulated house at noon. Location and timing are needed. If the person is at the wrong place at the wrong time they will miss the dew.
Jesus is the substance. He Is the music. We can't stand in judgment of ourselves or each other and have the culture of God. It will be leavened and get puffed up. The bread must be made quickly and served up fresh. There must be a flow. Jesus must be magnified as central, Our performance is a shadow of things to come. We are practicing for a grand performance which will one day be effortless but this life is real preparation for what will be.