Saturday, July 25, 2009

Angels, Colossians 2, and my Self-centered Reality

Colossians 2:18 condemns the “worship of the angels.”. That’s usually thought of as some New Age or perverted Christian doctrine. It’s not. Read the entirety of Colossians 2. The problem with the church in Colossae (and the problem of most of the churches of the N.T.) was elements in the church trying to impose rules (usually Old Testament rules) on the church that didn’t reflect the new covenant church. These were usually Jews who had been saved, were now part of the church, but couldn’t let yesterday’s religion go. At first, “worship of the angels” seems out of place in a discussion of the freedom from legalism we have in Christ. But let’s look closer.

1. Stephen addresses the Jewish mob listening to him as “you who received the law as ordained by angels(Acts 7:53).

2. Paul tells the Galatian churches (struggling with old covenant legalism in the new covenant church) that the Law was “ordained through angels (Galatians 3:19).

3. The writer of Hebrews (obviously dealing with the same problem as Stephen and the churches of Colossae and Galatia), describing the punishment of the old covenant law, says, “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:2,3).

So you see, Paul’s admonition that the Colossians not “worship…the angels” is not a Gentile (non-Jewish) sin thrown into the middle of a sin of first century A.D. Judaism. It is directly tied to their obsession with a Law now made obsolete for the new covenant church.

Any time you put non-scriptural mediators between God and man (Mary, priests, rituals, angels), it puts God at a distance and makes it easier to ignore His desire for a relationship with us. I can have warm fuzzies about the holy Mother, nostalgic rituals (which can even be favorite “old time” songs), or guardian angels, but that mean, demanding old grouch far away in heaven can’t trouble me. After all, I’m free to live however I want and still go to heaven (a place where my every desire is catered to) a long time from now, right?

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