We aren’t obligated to a list of rules when we follow Jesus, nor are we asked to practice any of form of penitential discipline to strengthen our will against sin.
The final practice Paul warns against is MYSTICISM. Mysticism is spiritual intuition outside of normal or ordinary understanding obtained through the use of intermediaries (angels, spirits) or ecstatic experiences.
Read: Colossians 2:18-19
Even in the New Testament there were those who denied that Jesus actually came in the flesh. It was difficult to believe that an all powerful God would inhabit a frail, sinful human body, so they developed other explanations for Jesus. You see, some of these people had actually seen Jesus or knew people who had seen Jesus. So they couldn’t say he wasn’t real, because clearly, he was.
In chapter one of Colossians, Paul says:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Colossians 1:15-16
Paul goes on to say that Christ is all we need:
I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him (Christ) lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3
Those who insisted on mystical practices thought there was more to know, outside of Jesus; something they could learn through intermediaries. The problem? Anything that is Jesus+ is dangerous and unnecessary. In Jesus lie all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And that is still true today.
Throughout scripture we are invited to ask the Father what we want to know (Matthew 7:7-8). We are told to seek him first (Luke 12:31). We have the Holy Spirit to show us the deep secrets of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). If we aren’t looking to God for knowledge, we are looking in the wrong place.
Christ is God’s mysterious plan! The gospel is Good News, but it is simple news. It confounds the wise; it is foolishness to the world. But God’s “foolish plan is wiser than the wisest of human plans!” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
So, tell me, what are you looking for? Do you run after ecstatic experiences? Are you relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal the mysteries of God or do you look for intermediaries? Have you made the Good News more complicated than it needs to be by turning the wisdom of God which is Christ into impossible foolishness?
I invite you to come back…the mystery is in Christ!