For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
In many ways we live in an artificial world. We have learned how to create amazing facsimiles of many natural things. For example, the entry way of my house has a wood grain floor, but it isn’t really wood. It’s a form of vinyl. We have developed artificial flowers that sometimes look better than the real thing. We have learned to mimic natural flavors. Many of the products that we consume daily have listed, as part of their ingredients, artificial flavors. Because something is artificial doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad, but it is not the genuine article.
Paul warned the church at Corinth about settling for an artificial faith. There were those who wanted to include artificial additives to faith in Christ. These additives seemed strong and powerful, and at times better than the real thing, but they led people away from genuinely following Jesus.
We face the same struggle today. The world is offering us many artificial additives that try to imitate true faith in Christ. These artificial additives are supposed to enhance our faith. They tell us that Jesus is fine, but he is not enough. He is only a part of a much larger and richer spirituality.
Many people drink diet pop. They often tell me that it isn’t bad, once you get used to it. I have never gotten used to diet pop. It always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. So it is with artificial faith. We can get used to it, but if we are honest, it leaves a bad taste in our mouth. Paul gives us some insights into living additive free in an artificial world.
In an artificial world, we need to hold onto the genuine article. Paul reminds us that faith in Christ is the genuine article. Everything else is a cheap substitute.
It is very common today to find imitation products for sale. This is actually a billion dollar business. These products look like the genuine article, but they are really cheap knock-offs. Some of them are fairly honest about what they are doing. They put their own labels on the product and let you know they are a copy. Some try to pull the wool over our eyes. On a trip to Ukraine, I visited a village market. They had all manner of goods for sale. At one stall they had athletic apparel. Prominently displayed was a hat with the NIKE swoosh across the front and under that the letters NICE. It was a nice hat, but it wasn’t a genuine NIKE.
In our world today, there are many imitations of genuine faith in God. Some of them bear their own label and declare that they are the better way. Some try to pass themselves off as a form of faith in Christ. If we look closely, it becomes clear that they are not the genuine article.
In an artificial world, we need to beware of spiritual additives to our faith. Paul warned the Galatians that false teachers were leading them away from the pure simple gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Galatians 1:6-9
Paul was not afraid to challenge those who wanted to add something else to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He felt that this was one of the worst forms of treachery and deception. He knew that Satan is a master at twisting the truth to lead people astray.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2 Cor. 11:13-15
We need to be on our guard that we are not polluting the gospel with spiritual artificial additives.
In an artificial world, we need to celebrate the real thing. We don’t have to add anything to the gospel, because it is complete. Christ is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to us. When we put our faith in Christ, we have all that we need.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:9-10
For many years, Coke’s slogan has been “It’s the real thing.” A number of years ago, Coke did a couple of experiments. They decided to introduce some new products to capture more market share. One of these experiments was New Coke. They adjusted the formula to what they thought people wanted. It was a flop. In fact, New Coke tasted like Pepsi. Another experiment that flopped was Clear Coke. People just couldn’t get used to Coke not being brown. Both products failed because they were not the “real thing.”
There are many “new” approaches to spirituality today. They come in just about any form that you might want. Many people are buying into them, but, in the long run, they will all fail. Why? Because they are not the real thing.
Jesus made it clear that he is the real thing. If we want to encounter God in a personal, transformational, eternal way, we have to go through Jesus. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
There is a commercial on the radio that uses the tagline, “Why settle for artificial snacks.” Paul might challenge us with the tagline, “Why settle for an artificial faith?” Jesus offers us the genuine article, with no artificial additives. He invites us to put away our spiritual junk food and seek what will really brings us life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.