Colossians – Christ in us
Who is Jesus?
Hardly anyone who hears the full story of Jesus and learns the true facts of his life and teaching, crucifixion and resurrection, walks away with a shrug of the shoulders, dismissing him as unimportant. People ignorant of the story or misinformed about it, of course, regularly dismiss him. But with few exceptions, the others know instinctively that they are dealing with a most remarkable greatness.
But it is quite common for those who consider him truly important to include others who seem to be equally important in his company–Buddha, Moses, Socrates, and Muhammad for a historical start, along with some personal favorites. For these people, Jesus is important, but not central, his prestige is considerable, but he is not preeminent.
The Christians in the town of Colosse, or at least some of them, seem to have been taking this line. For them, cosmic forces of one sort or another were getting equal billing with Jesus. Paul writes to them in an attempt to restore Jesus, the Messiah, to the CENTER of their lives.
The way he makes his argument is as significant as the argument he makes. Claims for the uniqueness of Jesus are common enough. But such claims about Jesus are frequently made with an arrogance that is completely incompatible with Jesus himself. Sometimes the claims are enforced with violence.
But Paul, although unswervingly confident in the conviction that Christs occupies the Center of creation and salvation without peers, is not arrogant. AND he is not certainly not violent. He argues from a position of rooted humility. He writes with the energies of most considerate love. He exhibits again what Christians have come to appreciate so much in Paul–the wedding of a brilliant and uncompromising intellect with a heart that is warmly and wonderfully kind.
When we tell others about Jesus, what is our demeanor in the telling?
Are humble, loving, kind, arrogant, insensitive, condescending or judgmental?
Do we tell what we know or embellish with what do not know? Sometimes we try to “sell” Jesus to others as if he is a commodity or a new product when our belief and behavior in the telling and living out His story (relationship) in us is what attracts others to Him. Sometimes, no words are needed.
Paul is a great example of a powerful witness who speaks the Truth (Jesus) in love with a sincere heart who longs for others to know Jesus, too.
OPEN TIMES THREE
Paul asks other Christians to pray with him for three important requests of God before telling the story of Jesus. Colossians 4:2-6 is an example of what to pray before sharing the good news of the most important relationship anyone can have…the intimate, saving, growing relationship with the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.
1. Open doors to the message.
2. Open their hearts to hear.
3. Open my mouth boldly speak Truth as plainly as I can.
I hope you can read the whole letter soon, in one sitting, for Paul’s message IS clear. Jesus needs to be the focus and center of our lives.
Colossians – The Highlights of Paul’s witness and teaching
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people…
“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way…”
WHO JESUS IS
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
“And he is the head of the body, the church…”
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
“…he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…”
WE ARE REDEEMED BY CHRIST!
“If you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”
“…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
“He (Jesus) is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.”
LIVING IN CHRIST
“…just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy…”
“He is the head over every power and authority.”
“…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
“…you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
PUT ON YOUR NEW CLOTHES!
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
ARROGANCE FREE ZONE
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
“And be thankful.”
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Do we really do ALL in the Name of Jesus?
We pray “in Jesus Name” as we should, but do we think with Jesus in mind as our central focus in all life decisions?
Do we tell His story as part of our story?
PRAYER FOR FOCUSED WITNESS
OPEN THE DOORS
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may OPEN A DOOR for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” (Emphasis mine)
OPEN MY MOUTH
“Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
OPEN THEIR HEARTS
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Are you ready to prayer this prayer? In Jesus Name?
Christianity is a missionary faith, and we define our mission in the exuberant, energetic telling of who Jesus is and the saving love He has for others. However, unless we tell this “Good News” in the power of the Holy Spirit, little can be accomplished for God. So, we are aware of our need for personal and corporate prayer as we undertake the work of helping others find and follow Jesus.
There is a tremendous lack of prayer and mission in the modern church. This is not true worldwide, but it is true within American and European Christianity. A revival of prayer is desperately needed if the salvation message is to flourish and new believers are to be ushered into the kingdom of God. This is the challenge of God’s Word. This is the challenge to us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for saving us because of loving us the way you do. Thank for your great desire to be in an intimate relationship with us. We pray, you work. We talk, you listen like no other person. Now, we must listen to you. Help us to hear your Voice above all others. Give us the boldness to open our mouths when you open their hearts.
In Jesus Name, Amen