“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. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
— Colossians 2:8-10
From Hollywood to news outlets to podcasts and books and blogs and social media, the so-called wisdom of the world is available at every turn. We find helpful advice from the “experts” on every imaginable topic or issue. Finance, self-care, meaning, work, politics, health, time management, food, culture, and on and on. Relationships, marriage, parenting. Mental health and emotional strength and what to think about so-and-so’s speech and what to eat (or not eat) for breakfast and how to keep yourself regular. Has there ever been a time when pop psychology and pop philosophy so dominate our conversation and convictions?
What’s even better (?) is that we can get all the above in whatever flavor we prefer — liberal or conservative; Christian or materialist; baby-boomer or gen-z. This ensures that we can easily find ammunition to prove that which we already know (want? feel?) to be true.
As devoted followers of Jesus, I’d like to make a radical counter-proposal. Read the Bible.
In the above passage, the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, warns the church of Colossae to not be captured by what the world teaches. Oh how we need to take this to heart in our time! We are in grave danger of basing our lives on ‘empty philosophy’ and ‘high-sounding nonsense’ that originate in ‘human thinking’ and ‘the spiritual powers of the world.’
Friends, we have available to us the very wisdom of God. Why would we settle for human thinking? Perhaps because it is easier to access a blog than to dig into God’s Word. Maybe because we so much prefer to find ‘high sounding nonsense’ that strengthens our own opinions than to allow ourselves to be challenged by God Himself. Or maybe we are taken in because the blogger or author or expert we count on carries the label Christian and attaches Bible verses to their opinions. Perhaps we simply don’t believe that the wisdom we need is accessible in the Bible - at least not to ordinary folk like you and me. Or maybe we’re duped by the often self-proclaimed title of ‘expert.’ They’ve studied this stuff. They know things that I don’t.
Perhaps you have fallen prey to the assault on the validity of the Bible for us today. After all, it is so... old. We’ve made lots of advances since that time. Things are just different now. The Bible is good for things like affirming that Jesus loves us and died for us and rose again, but in the nitty gritty of life we need experts. Brothers and sisters, do not be taken in by that lie. The Creator of heaven and earth and of you and me knows best, and He has revealed Himself.
“In him [Jesus] lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
— Colossians 2:3
We need to learn to think biblically. We need to get beyond ‘that sounds good’ and ‘I’ve never seen this verse like that before’ and ‘I need to post that quote’, and instead move on to ‘is that what the Bible actually intends to teach?’ and ‘What does the Bible have to say about...?’
The Bible does reveal God’s wisdom regarding money and relationships and parenting and life-controlling habits. It may not answer every question we have in all the details and specifics, but it does provide a framework of how God intends us to think about and live in these various arenas. What does the Bible teach about raising kids and spending money and overcoming anxiety? Before turning to the experts of human thinking, shouldn’t we at least put some work into discovering what God has always said about these things? And then we can begin to filter all the other information and opinions and ‘wisdom’ through Him. There is good advice out there - and lots of the other kind. The problem is that we are so immersed in our culture that we don’t naturally have what it takes to determine the difference. But, as we intentionally immerse ourselves in the Word of God, we develop the ability to see what is gold and what is garbage.
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
— Hebrews 5:12-14