"17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ." Colossians 2:17Picture a sunny room. In the center of the room is a beautiful vase - so beautiful and delicate that no one can resist gazing upon it and reaching out to touch its smooth surface. Stretching far behind this vase is a distorted shadow of it.
If you have ever seen a shadow (which I'm assuming you have), it only vaguely represents the object that casts the shadow. Sometimes a shadow is an extremely long version of the object, and sometimes it is an extremely short version. Either way, it is a distortion of the real object, and has no substance, being but an absence of light.
If, as this passage from Colossians seems to suggest, all things in this world are but shadows, and all substance is found in Christ, it is fruitless to pursue things of this world such as riches and fame, as they are but shadows that pass and change as the day goes by.
"6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow!Why then do we so often fall in love with the world? Why then do we seek fulfilment and joy in passing, changing, flighty shadows, when we have before us the true object, steady, unchanging and full of a beauty the shadow can never match?
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!"
The analogy we began with can be broken up as follows: the room is a day, the vase is Truth, and the shadows are the world. Everyday, we are faced with the choice of grasping the vase, or chasing shadows as they move throughout the day. What will you choose?