The Problem with add-ons





I’ve just been looking at a special Help-Page concerned with the problem of “Add-Ons.” Here’s the rather provocative title:

Add-ons that cause stability or security issues are put on a blocklist

Add-Ons drive me crazy. I sign up for one thing online and several others sneak in -Trojan Horse style-  slowing down the whole process and causing (I now discover) “stability or security issues.”

Mental stability, I’m guessing they mean.

And financial security, probably.

And it’s not just an issue in the Online World. I was listening to this guy encouraging me to  consider double glazed windows, when he started in on a Finance Plan that was “part of the package.” But it was an Add-On. I didn’t want some twenty year mortgage arrangement, just a few windows…

I talked about this to my neighbour here and he said: “Oh, don’t get me started. I married this woman and now her mother has moved in. Isn’t that what you mean about Add-Ons?”

Well, maybe.

The letter to the Colossian believers was written against this  kind of  problem. It was a sort of “Christianity plus…” thinking.  Can you have Christianity plus  something else?

Colossae was a new, early church that grew out of Judaism from an evangelism campaign by one of Paul’s young Go-to guys. These new believers were in a tough, Greek, pagan culture and being influenced and confused by all cults and false religions around.One of Paul’s travelling team-members, (Epaphras) helped these Colossians embrace the Way of Jesus. They accepted his teaching and responded to the Holy Spirit but then came a whole barrage of possible Add-Ons. Christianity plus…something else.

False teachings, mysticism, philosophy, legalism, and traditions seemed very strong counter-influences and the young believers were under siege. And in any case, some of these additions seemed very credible, plausible and not wholly anti-Christian. So why not have both?

For example: Jesus came out of Judaism, so why not strap Judaism on to what was being taught. Wasn’t that ok? Some pushed it. Why not have the Old Testament rules, festivals, sabbaths and food laws along with this new way of Christ? Both and.

Again, most of these believers would have come from the local culture and local beliefs: which included family loyalty, community participation and identity. It’s a bit much to ask me to just cut loose from all of these, surely. Can’t they be added on?

Some would have delved more deeply into contemporary philosophy, like the Stoics, the Ascetics, the Cynics and the Gnostics. Couldn’t the elements of some of these be acceptably integrated into the new Christian mindset.?

Some still had the draw of friendships and family that would pull them into their version of worldliness… Were all these things to be totally shunned? And if some could be enjoyed…could they not be added on to our following Christ?

We haven’t changed so very much have we?

Paul sought to challenge these Add-Ons. Christianity was the solution, but the new fancy philosophical theories were as catchy and powerful then as today’s false teachers and their deceptive TV ministries that fleece the flock and leave people empty and devastated along with a bad reputation in the wake. Thus, the church was in a mess.

So Paul writes. What does he write? Generally, one crucial message that is outlined in that bumper sticker: The main point is that the main point stays the main point.

Jesus. Only Jesus.

It’s really no different today. We come to Christ with our baggage, with our ideas and prejudices, mindset and value-system all in place. Does everything have to go?

The reality is that we too try to integrate the old and the new. Jesus was explicit on this point: “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.” (Matthew 9:16).

That is to say, Add-ons don’t work. According to this help-page, they slow the whole system down. They endanger your inner security and they destabilise the peace of the whole.

It’s as well to remember why we became Christians in the first place. The main thing (that must remain the main thing) is Jesus, not culture, politics, not heaven or hell, not rules or values….. only Jesus.

Matt Redman’s song comes to mind:

Who has the power to raise the dead?
Who can save us from our sin?
He is our hope, our righteousness
Jesus, only Jesus

Who can make the blind to see?
Who holds the keys that set us free?
He paid it all to bring us peace
Jesus, only Jesus

Holy, King almighty Lord
Saints and angels all adore
I join with them and bow before
Jesus, only Jesus

Who can command the highest praise?
Who has the name above all names?
You stand alone, I stand amazed
Jesus, only Jesus



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