A Shadow of Things to Come
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. – Colossians 2:16-17
This Past Sunday, we looked at these two verses briefly, discussing its call for us to not allow us to judge others based on how we practice our faith. In the same way, we are not to judge other believers based on how they practice their faith in Jesus Christ. Judging others on the content of their practice and not their true identity in Christ is one of the deceptive philosophies that Paul mentioned in verse 8.
The ground for this charge is that none of our practice or tradition is a perfect representation of what will be to come. Our church is not perfectly expressing the fullness of our union with Christ through worship, communion, fellowship, or teaching, nor is any other church down the road. It is all but a shadow of the fullness of glory and wonder that will be with Christ, by the Holy Spirit, and in the presence of the Father, when we reach eternity. If we were able to manifest the perfection of eternity today, there would be no point in eagerly awaiting the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. There would be no purpose in participating in God’s ushering in of the fulness of His Kingdom.
Yet, even within the reality of our yet unfulfilled traditions and rituals, there is still much beauty to be seen. The truth that the way in which we celebrate and practice our Sabbath is a shadow of things to come is a beautiful one. This means in our communion, through receiving Christ’s Body and Blood into ours, we are truly experiencing a shadow of heaven, in which the fullness of our bodily union with Christ will be realized. In being baptized, it is a shadow of the true reality of being immersed into, and surrounded by, Christ, once again physically experiencing union with Him by the Spirit, a shadow of that same bodily union that is to come in heaven. In our gathering together as The Body on a sunday morning, we are experiencing a consummation of Christ being joined to His Bride, a shadow of the great wedding feast that is yet to come.
When we read the words, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come,” it should not serve to dishearten us. Rather, it should build us up with joy in realizing that God has allowed us to be able to truly experience Him through the shadows of things to come. With this in mind, we look ahead, with the eagerness of Children, to the coming of Christ.