Spring at Frontier Camp always means travel for full-time staff. Visits to campuses to recruit staff and visits to churches to recruit campers dominate the calendar. Shortly after I arrived at FC full-time in 1998, a few of us were making such a visit to Baylor early one spring morning. Former Director Wes Woodard was driving, long-time assistant Richard Stephens was in the passenger seat and as the newcomer, I was in the middle of the back seat with no seat belt on (it was the 90s ok?). On a lonely farm to market road we were travelling westbound around a blind curve only to face an eastbound logging truck being passed by an off-duty prison guard in his Chevy truck.
I had enough time to have this thought, “in a few moments I am going to fly out of the front windshield and die.” We were approaching a bridge over Mack Creek and so the choices were swerve left and meet a logging truck, swerve right and hurtle into a ravine or stay straight and hope for the best. Thankfully Wes stayed the course and began slowing down. Right before we entered the bridge the truck going the wrong way in our lane jerked off to our right and went down an embankment as he was just past the ravine…but not before he clipped the passenger side mirror and took it clean off. Wes pulled the car over after the bridge and no one said anything for a few moments. We got out and crossed the bridge and found the driver of the truck was ok and we were all too thankful to strangle him so remarkably he even remained ok after we reached him. I will never forget that moment and am grateful to this day that Wes was able to hold the car right down the middle of the lane and avoid the dangers on either side.
Bible scholar C.I. Scofield once said, “Pure Christianity lives between two dangers ever present: the danger that it will evaporate into a philosophy…and the danger that it will freeze into a form.” Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians to encourage that church body as well as readers over the centuries to avoid those very dangers Scofield so succinctly identified: freezing or evaporating.
You’ve probably met a member of the frozen chosen, right? Those in our churches who just hate change, rarely smile and seem to only attend services out of a sense of obligation and tradition. And then we have those that have reduced Christianity to a system of thought, tend to argue a lot and their thinking and talking seems to have zero connection to their actions. One of those is the logging truck and the other is the ravine. We must stay the course between those two “dangers ever present.”
My dad has always told me that the church is an organism and not an organization. That makes sense to me. The God of the Bible is a living God who never sleeps or slumbers so why would He want servants who are frozen or evaporating? Believers should be alive and active and a part of a church body made up of other living and active members, an organism.
Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” In 2:20-23 he says, “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
“Hollow” and “false”, those are two stark words in the verses above. Turning Christianity into a philosophy leaves one hollow and reducing following Christ to a mere set of rules is false, lacking in any value. Wow. If you are a Christ-follower, how are you doing on the highway? Are you drifting towards that logging truck of philosophy? Are you nearing the ravine of legalism? Christianity, pure Christianity as Scofield says, moves straight ahead. It has this rare blend of thought and action or James would simply call it faith and deeds.
Sit down tonight and read through Colossians, it is just 4 chapters and won’t take you long. Reading the word and then carrying it out will keep you on the road and out of danger. Depend on Christ, the living Word. You’ll be driving straight and making progress on the journey in no time.