By David Faust
Early one morning not far from my house, a towering tree tumbled swiftly to the ground. It was an impressive-looking maple in full leaf, with a trunk three feet in diameter. The reason for the tree’s demise wasn’t obvious until it fell. It was hollow inside.
Hollowness comes in many forms. A man who lacks integrity appears successful on the outside but has an empty soul. A beautiful woman’s allure wears off when friends discover her shallow character. Flashy entrepreneurs make headlines, but without solid business plans their companies won’t survive. Clever marketing and dynamic personalities cause temporary spurts of church growth, but strong congregations arise over time, nurtured by healthy doses of truth and love.
Each day we must choose between hollowness and holiness. Paul wrote, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
Hollow philosophies are “deceptive.” They appear convincing on the surface, but upon closer examination they fall apart. They depend on “human tradition” instead of divine revelation. They are built on “this world rather than on Christ.”
In T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men,” voices whisper messages that are “quiet and meaningless as wind in dry grass or rats’ feet over broken glass.” Listen carefully and you can hear the raspy voices of hollow philosophers shouting—not whispering—in our culture today: Macro-evolution is widely assumed to be true and belief in creation is ridiculed; but macro-evolution cannot explain how something came from nothing, personality came from impersonality, and order came from chaos. Immoral sexual behavior (both heterosexual and homosexual) is being normalized and celebrated, while proponents of family values are ignored or castigated for their outdated views. False religions and moral perversions are endorsed and embraced under the guise of inclusiveness and tolerance. Opinion polls measure trends but not truth.
Hollow philosophies won’t be defeated by hollow churches. In the battle for the soul of a searching generation, the latest evangelical faith fads won’t cut it. Comfortable buildings and state-of-the-art technology may enhance the church’s ministry, but they can’t make up for spiritual shallowness. To love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength requires solid teaching and intentional discipleship so believers can confidently embrace and defend our faith.
The whole Bible points to Jesus Christ; but this is supremely true in the book of Colossians, where Paul repeatedly emphasizes the uniqueness of Christ. Among the highlights:
• “The Son is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).
• “In him all things were created” (v. 16).
• “In him all things hold together” (v. 17).
• “He is the head of the body, the church” (v. 18).
• “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (2:9).
Notice, “all the fullness of the Deity” can be found in Christ. Paul continues, “And in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (2:10). “Fullness” contrasts sharply with “hollowness.”
In Christ we find fullness, not hollowness. He fills our daily work with purpose. He infuses our dying days with resurrection hope. His Spirit indwells us. His promises encourage us. His presence brings comfort and strength.
Will we choose holiness or hollowness, fullness or emptiness? There’s nothing hollow about Christ. He came that we may “have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
1. Is your life empty or full?
2. What hollow and deceptive philosophies can you identify in our culture?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for July 6, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Psalms 123, 124
1 Chronicles 1, 2
1 Chronicles 3, 4
1 Chronicles 5, 6
1 Chronicles 7—9
1 Chronicles 10, 11
1 Chronicles 12—14