I grew up in the country, small town Texas, so when it got dark at night, it got really dark. I remember there were times when my parents were either asleep or out for a date night – I was home alone or at least the only one awake. I would watch some mildly scary movie and freak myself out. I can remember tiptoeing around my house convinced that the noise I had heard or the movement I thought I saw was someone or something in the house out to get me. I would tiptoe through the house, jumping around corners in my best martial arts stance (never had any martial arts training, but ... ) ready to attack whatever it was ... before it could attack me.
Of course, there was never anything there. My mind had tricked me – the darkness and the solitude had overruled what I knew to be true and I had began to believe what was not true. That is what life in the shadows does to you – you get pushed into the shadows and you start to believe what is not true. Life in the shadows distorts reality.
The same is true for our spiritual life, too; when we allow ourselves to be pushed into the shadows – by ideas of ritualism, mysticism, legalism – our view of Christ is distorted and He is devalued in our life. This is the essence of what Paul is writing in chapter 2 of Colossians. He is warning the church of false teaching that is pushing them into the shadows ... distorting their view of reality and devaluing Christ.
Here is the straightforward truth – salvation comes through faith by grace. Whenever we try to add rules, rituals, deeper experiences to that simple statement, we are stepping into the shadows and out of the light. We are adding requirements to what has already been perfectly accomplished. We are adding experiences to what Jesus already experienced for us. We are perceiving His suffering on the cross as something less than perfect.
Hold fast (2:19) to Christ! Hold fast to His perfect sacrifice! Hold fast to the cross!