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Welcome back to our ongoing discussion about how true disciples of Christ can use The Year Long Celebration of God to help us worship God better this year than we did the year before.
This is a discipleship experience whereby we learn to better know and love God, and we also learn how to help our fellow disciples do the same.
This discipleship experience is for parents and pastors and teachers and youth workers and children and students and counselors and everyone who is a born again believer in the God of the Bible.
But, we run the exact same risk that believers in ages past ran.
Too often they substituted the substance for mere shadows and walked away with nothing more than empty rituals.
But we don’t want that.
And part of making sure we don’t fall into that rut, we’re going to open God’s Word today and be challenged.
But another part is taking advantage of a Celebration of God Conference. Whether one of our speakers attends one of your events, or you host a full Celebration of God event, we would love to speak to you and your congregation, organization, camp, school, or business about how you can truly give God the preeminence in all things.
Check out CelebrationOfGod.com or AMBrewster.com to learn more.
And — as always — today’s episode notes and transcripts and worship resources will be linked for you today in the description.
Alright, today I want to read Colossians 2:16-19 and apply it to what we’re doing within The Celebration of God.
Paul writes, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.”
We talked about this a lot in our introductory episodes. By the way, if you’re new to the show, you definitely need to work through those episodes in order to better understand what The Celebration of God really is and how it can help you mature in your walk with Christ.
But in verse 16, Paul is warning the Colossians not to allow a mere man to pass judgment on them for their genuine worship of God.
The idea of not passing judgement didn’t have to do with whether or not others were going to critique them, it had to do with the believer’s own response to the critique.
Someone may judge me for doing something or for not doing something else, but I don’t have to let that judgment take root in me. I don’t have to buy into it and accept it.
Now, before I continue, when a child of God takes the Word of God and in the love of God confronts me about sin in my life, I need to respond to that reproof.
But when it comes to things about which there is no clear command or in an area where God has granted liberty, we do not need to submit to the condemnation of others.
“Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day —17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
The author of Hebrews said the same thing in Hebrews 8 in reference to Christ and the human priests. In that passage Christ is being called the great High Priest, but the author makes this observation in verse 4. Speaking of Christ he writes, “Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law.”
Jesus was not a Levite, so in an earthly sense He wouldn’t have been a priest. But then verse 5 says that these human priests, “serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.”
What does he mean by that? He continues, "just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, ‘See,’ He says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.’”
What was this pattern, and why was it so important for Moses to follow it?
Hebrews 9 teaches us that the tabernacle and the offerings and the order of the priests and all of that was a copy, an earthly shadow of a heavenly reality.
Verse 24 says, “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
With this understanding, let’s get back to Colossians. “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day —17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Just like the Old Testament feasts and customs and even the Law itself, our modern festivals and feasts and days of rest are not the substance — they’re not the main point. They’re merely shadowy copies of much more significant spiritual realities.
Before I continue, I want to substantiate what I said about the Law itself being a copy. Hebrews 10:1 says, “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.”
The Law could never make anyone holy like Christ Himself could.
And that is the substance Paul is discussing in Colossians.
The substance belongs to Christ.
Listen, the holidays and feasts and days of rest and the Celebration Walls and the podcast episodes and the speeches and the rituals . . . these are all designed to point our minds to something else — something greater.
I never want The Celebration of God to become the main thing. God is the main thing, and the Celebration of God discipleship experience is designed to help us continue to keep Him as the main thing.
By all means, use The Year Long Celebration of God resources to help you mature in your worship of God, but do not slavishly adhere to it like a system of rules and regulations. Don’t make the checklists and the challenges the goal of the year. Don’t mindlessly keep the traditions.
That’s a big reason that most Americans don’t really worship God on Christmas and Easter. The tradition became this mindless experience for our own pleasure.
But listen to what Paul says in Colossians 2:18 and following, “18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.”
That was a perfect illustration of someone steeped in self-worship. They delighted in self-abasement . . . not God. They lifted up their theory of the worship of angels. God never commanded that. In fact, He commanded the exact opposite. This person took his stand on his own visions and was inflated in his fleshly mind.
Could there be a better picture of the foolishness of self-worship? Unfortunately, this individual — just like we so often do — probably thought that God was glorified by his choices.
So, here’s my challenge.
1. Don’t let people judge you when you are genuinely serving God the way He commands.
2. Don’t get so focused on the symbol, that you miss the Savior.
3. Don’t fall into a delusion by thinking that your unbiblical approach to the worship of God is Christ-honoring. That’s self-worship.
Instead, 4. Grow in your true worship of God.
Verse 19 reads, “holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.”
Your Celebration Wall and our holiday observations and our various resources are designed to point you to the God in Whom you must be built up and supplied and in Whom you must grow.
If we use The Celebration of God in that way, we will all become better disciples of Christ, and we will help our disciplees to do the same.
But if we substitute the substance for the shadow, we’re like the Pharisees in Mathew 25:15 to whom Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
May it never be.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets, and join us next time for our first discussion about how we can worship God with our New Year celebration.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.