Dear Colossae Week 6: A New Community
The book of Colossians. It was a letter written during one of Paul the Apostle’s many trips to prison for declaring Jesus as Lord. And not just any Lord. A Lord who has died and risen again. The letter’s addressed to a community of people that Paul had never met, who made up a church community that he did not start. So, here’s some insight. This letter dates back to as early as the mid-50s A.D. Change was in the air in the empire. A new Caesar had just been coronated and he called himself lord. People had high hopes for the empire. But was Caesar really the true lord?
Meanwhile, in a small town called Colossae, there was a church that was started by a friend of Paul’s named Epaphras and was struggling with living out their faith in the midst of first century Rome. As Paul was in prison at the time, Epaphras visited him to update him that the Colossians were doing well overall, but had some cultural pressures tempting them to run away from Jesus. And so, Paul felt the need to write a letter to the whole community. But could his letters still apply to us today?
Dear Colossae, dear Church of Christ, these letters were written to encourage you. Please read them well.
Well, good morning to everyone, and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We’re currently in a series called “Dear Colossae” and I like to sort of summarize what we’re doing at the beginning of every one of my messages just because, number one, it’s always good to go back and summarize what we’ve done up to this point, but if somebody’s new or if somebody’s missed a week or two, it’s always good so that they feel like they’re a part of what’s going on. What we’re doing in this series is we’re actually going through the entire epistle that Paul wrote to the Colossian church in the City of Colossae. At least once a year, it’s a commitment I’ve made to myself that we would go through a book or an epistle, a letter, in the New Testament, or a book in the Old Testament every year. So, we’re doing Colossians this year, thus the pillars and all the stuff because we’re trying to make it feel like we’re back there at Colossae, as well, as we’re doing it.
But, all that being said, I want to do sort of a summary of what we’ve done up to this point. We’re actually through Colossians 3:4. I want to summarize what we’ve done all the way from Colossians 1:1-3:4 so then we’re ready to get into today. And today, it’s going to take us a little bit to think through the material today. I’m going to be a little bit more of a teacher, probably, than a preacher in some ways. I just really want you to put on your hard hats and get your pickaxes out and all that stuff because we’re going to have to do a little bit of work. Because the way Paul writes is a little bit differently than maybe we would read with some of the words that He uses, but we’re going to have some fun and we’re going to enjoy this.
So, let’s do a real quick summary. Up to this point, when Paul starts off the epistle to the Colossians, he says that he’s an apostle and that he’s writing with Timothy. He tells them grace and peace. And then what he does is he talks about the fact that the Gospel has come to Colossae through a person that he knows, a friend of his, Epaphras. Epaphras led the Colossians to the Lord, told them about Jesus, that He had died on a cross and risen from the grave on the third day, and then what had happened was is some people have come in, or a person has come in to the church and has sort of started teaching them that there’s more to it than that.
So, Epaphras has visited Paul in prison so that he can get some apostolic recommendations. Paul has written this letter and it’s come back. So, Paul starts off with reminding them, “Hey, you remember when you heard the Gospel? Remember how it’s bearing fruit and it’s doing the same thing through the rest of the world and all of these great things are going on? And you started loving people like you never loved before and you had this hope of heaven that you were focused on?”
So, Paul’s trying to get them to remember what brought them into the Kingdom of God, which was the simple Gospel; the proclamation that Jesus died on a cross and He rose again on the third day. And so, after he says those things and sort of lays that foundation, we might suspect that he would go ahead and start dealing with some of the difficulties going on in the church. But, rather than doing that, he actually turns to what some call a hymn, some people call an early creed, a baptismal formula, a poem. Whatever it is, it’s this carefully structured several verses that lift up Jesus. That He’s fully God, He’s the one who created the world, in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form. He’s all of these things. He’s the beginner of the new creation. Everything in the whole cosmos, the whole world, holds together because of Him.
So, he gets them to think about who Jesus is. Then he reminds them after he does that, “Hey, we need to press on. We don’t need to give up the hope that we have in the Gospel. We need to make sure that we continue on.” And then what he starts to do is he turns and he deals with these people that have decided to come along and say, “Hey, you know, we’re going to give you a little bit more to what’s going on. I mean, it’s great that you heard that story, but there’s more to it than that.” And Paul reminds them, “No, no, no. Jesus nailed to the cross all of the things that are held against you, and He defeated all of the powers of the enemy (Colossians 2:15), so don’t buy into this thing that it’s ‘Jesus plus’ and ‘Jesus and.’ That if you don’t touch these things and don’t do these things and make sure you keep this festival and don’t do this and make sure you do that, that then you really are enlightened and you can really worship and you can really do all these things.”
Paul says, “No, no, no. That’s not the Gospel. The Gospel is a very clear thing that we don’t need to confuse and don’t need to make it more difficult than it is. We need to just understand that it’s Jesus died on a cross and He rose again on the third day.”
So, in Colossians 3:1-4, which is where we ended last week, Paul says, “Hey, listen, you’ve been raised with Christ. He raised you. You didn’t do that. He raised you. Keep your eyes up there. Don’t get focused on all that stuff down here. Keep your eyes focused. When Jesus appears, finally, in glory (Colossians 3:4), you will appear with Him in glory as well.”
And then he turns to the next thing that he’s going to do. For many Christians — I really believe this — I think that if they could end the book of Colossians in Colossians 3:4, they’d be happy because they’d go, “Okay. Now we’ve got the right doctrinal statements. We’ve got the right understanding. We’re good.” But for Paul, that’s not what he’s after. He wants you to know the right things because he believes that right belief leads to right practice. For Paul, it’s about living this thing out. I mean, so many times people read Paul and they go, “Oh, Paul teaches grace,” and then they go to James and they’re like, “Man, what’s wrong with James? How comes he’s got all this we’ve got to do all these things and everything?”
Paul and James are not contradicting one another. Paul believes, with everything within him, that if we’ve been touched by the grace of God because we are Christians, then we will live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. He believes that with all of his heart. So, what he’s going to do now is turn to the community. This is really important, so lean in here because these are some challenging things. As we read the New Testament, there are just certain things that we have to sort of learn as we read or we’re more than likely going to read it wrong.
If you’re from Kentucky, which is the greatest place to be and the greatest basketball program in the world, we understand linguistics very well in Kentucky. There is “you,” which is singular, and then there’s “y’all,” which is plural. Okay? And we get that. I don’t know why somebody doesn’t have the Kentucky International Version, the KIV, because we would understand this. But when we read “you” in the New Testament, as a general rule, we read it as “me.” Like, we’re reading the Bible, we see “you,” “It’s me.” So, we read it very individualistic in the way we read it. It’s not written that way and it was never intended to be read that way. “Yous” are plural in the New Testament. Paul is writing to the community. He’s writing to the church.
So, what he’s doing now is after he’s laid out these great understandings that everything’s been nailed to the cross, Jesus has conquered everything, he really is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, you really don’t need anything else other than Jesus, Christianity isn’t getting things right, Christianity is a person, His name is Jesus, we follow Him, He’s all we need, He is the way, the truth and the life. We don’t need anything other than that. Paul now turns and says, “Okay. Now that we know that, if we don’t live that out collectively, then the people that we go out and talk to are going to look at us and go, ‘Well, Jesus is not enough because there’s no real transformation in your life.’”
So, what he does is he turns towards the community, which is made up of individuals, but he’s talking about the community and how the community will witness Jesus to those outside of the church. And here’s the greatest Get Out of Jail Free card: Paul never envisions, ever, that you or me, as a single individual, would get everything so right that we would be able to represent Jesus completely, fully, within our own selves. Because, see, I have deficiencies in my life. You have deficiencies in your life. There’s things that God’s done in my life that are really good that I have excelled at, that God has blessed me at. But there’s areas in my life that I still need to work on, like you. Other areas.
So, Paul envisions that the witness of Christ in the local community will come through the church. That if people were to see what we do collectively, they would get a good representation of Jesus. And so, what he’s going to do is as he starts to move towards this community witness of sharing the Gospel and living out the Gospel, he’s going to give us three lists. They each have five words in them. I know when you’re probably reading the Bible you don’t count the words and understand that was a list and all that stuff. That’s for us Bible nerds to do that. But I think most of y’all are like, “Oh, that’s cool that he saw that. Yeah. That’s neat.”
It’s okay. That ain’t going to change your life, I promise you. “Oh, I’ve got three lists of five. All of a sudden, now, I’m walking on water.” It’s not going to change your life. Okay? But what I’m saying is there’s these lists. The first five are vices. The second five are vices. The last five are virtues. They are community vices and virtues. The first two lists deal with a particular sin and then four other ways to catalogue it. The second list deals with a particular sin and four other ways to catalogue it. These sins are community-destroying sins. They are sins that will destroy the witness of the community.
So, with that being said, now let’s get into Scripture and see if we can sort of read through what Paul is saying and sort of understand what he’s doing here.
He says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.”
Now, if you remember, we just read Colossians 3. He said, “Don’t seek the things that are here on the earth. Seek the things that are up there. Do that stuff.” He says, “So, put to death therefore the things that are earthly in you.” That doesn’t mean as individuals we don’t want to do this, but he’s writing to the community. In you, plural, put these things to death that are earthly in you.
“Sexual immorality,” — all of these things that he’s listing here as vices all have to do with sexual things. Sexual immorality, sexual impurity, sexual passion, sexual evil desire, and sexual wanting what you want, which Paul says, ultimately, is idolatry.
Now, listen. I’m going to say this to you and I want you to hear this. And if you’re listening via the internet and the mobile app, please listen in here. This is important. There’s probably nothing more, in this history of the Church, that has destroyed the local church any more than sexual sins in leadership and in the church. That’s why Paul says, “Hey, this is an important thing. This is something if we don’t get this right, we’re going to get it wrong bad.”
Right now, in Chicago — and I say it with absolute remorse — there’s a church that has 20,000 to 30,000 people. It’s one of the most influential churches, probably, in America over the last 20 years. Willow Creek Church. Not only has their pastor had to resign, their entire staff resigned last week because of sexual problems.
I say that because Paul says here, “Listen, this sin will destroy a church. It will destroy your lives, too, but it will destroy the witness of the church because sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, covetousness, which is idolatry,” Paul says, “Here’s the reality: We all signed up to follow Jesus. We all signed up to do the Jesus thing.”
And listen: If you’re new here today or if you’re not even sure where you’re at with God, this really isn’t coming at you. Please understand that. This is for the people that say, “I’m in. I really want to follow Jesus.” For the people that say, “I’m in. I really want to follow Jesus,” there is a place for sexuality. That place is in a marriage between a man and a woman. That’s where it’s at. Any other deviation from that, at some level, is some sort of impurity or passion or evil desire, or, “I want what I want,” which Paul says is ultimately idolatry. When we decide that we want to exchange what God wants for us with something else, we become idolaters. And you can even see Paul talk about that in Romans. He says when people give up God, these are some of the perversions that go on in their minds as they give up God.
Okay? Now, listen. This is important. He says, “On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”
Now, I’ve been doing this thing called a textual interaction where we sort of jump out for a moment and sort of talk about the text. We cannot allow our teaching of the Gospel to exclude the reality of wrath. Like, I wouldn’t be a good preacher to you if I said, “Oh, don’t worry. It’s all good. Do whatever you want to do. God’s got you. He’s like Santa Claus and the bunny rabbit and the Tooth Fairy all sort of wrapped together. All He wants is to just give you a big hug and you don’t have to worry about it.”
That wouldn’t be a true, honest — and that doesn’t mean we need to get excited. The Church gets excited about wrath sometimes. Like, “Ha. We’re going to get you.” That is a perversion. Okay? This is something that should grieve our hearts. It should grieve our hearts that there are people that do not know God and may never know God. That should grieve our hearts. It should never be something that we’re proud of. And listen to what Paul says because this is important.
“In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.”
In other words, you’re not like that anymore. You’ve been changed. This is not the way you are. You are a child of God now, which means you are different. You’ve been changed. Which, to take a textual interaction here, the Gospel isn’t simply negative wrath. It’s incredibly positive. It’s transformational. He says, “Hey, this is the way you were living, but you heard the Gospel. It changed your life. You’re different now. This is the beauty of the Gospel. The Gospel isn’t, “You’d better turn or burn,” or, “Eat the bread of life or you’re toast.” You know? “Get right or get left.” Whatever. “I preach the Gospel.” No. The Gospel is the good news. The Gospel says, “This is what it could be, but there is a solution for you. The solution is a person and His name is Jesus.” That’s the Gospel. Okay? It’s okay. People online were clapping. They’re drinking their coffee going, “Yeah!” Anyways, so, it isn’t simply a negative. It’s incredibly positive. So, we need to remember that.
He says, “But now...” — so, we’ve dealt with one list. Sexual immorality, absolute community killer. It kills our witness in the church.
He goes, “But now you must put them all away.”
All these things that would bring on the wrath of God that would be idolatrous, that would be us turning the way that we want, and then now he deals with another specific sin that will destroy a church, and these are speech issues.
“Anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
Anger from your mouth, wrath from your mouth, malice from your mouth, slander from your mouth and obscene talk from your mouth. Listen, I’m going to be a pastor here and I’m going to meddle a little bit. We, as a Christian Church, are settling for negative speech patterns, and sort of insinuating that there’s a greater good behind that. That is a compromise. We are called to be people that speak life and not death, we don’t speak slander, malice, wrath and anger. We don’t do that. And it’s time somebody stands up and says, “If we don’t honor this, if we don’t look at Scripture and say this is what should be coming out of our mouths, and anything that we associate ourselves with should never look like this, we are damaging our witness as God’s holy Christian Church.”
It shouldn’t be. They’re speech ethics directed at the community. See, Paul realized. He ain’t dumb. This guy’s a smart guy. He’s like, “If you don’t get the sex thing right, your church is going to get destroyed because then you don’t even know what’s right and wrong and you can’t evaluate anything. There’s no sense of truth. There’s no sense of anything. You’ve got to get that right. And we’ve got to be people that build each other up and encourage one another and see destiny in people’s lives and speak truth in love and build people up and don’t settle for the negative stuff and the slander.”
And we do. I mean, listen to me. Please hear me here. We are, right now, the Christian Church is involved in such nasty speech against each other on social media and other platforms. It should never be in the Church that God died for. We should never have those tongues that are bringing death to one another. I’m just going to tell you right now that is way better preaching than you’re letting on. Okay? Just know that. And it might be because you’re feeling like, “I guess he’s right.” Okay? But we should. We’ve got to watch what we say.
Moving on here, he says, “Don’t lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
He says, “Hey, listen, we don’t have to lie to one another. This is a team. This is a we. We’re in this thing together. God is shaping us as we go to become more like the image of our creator. That’s the end game here.”
He says, “Here there is not a Greek and Jew,” anymore. We don’t got these walls. We have bridges. We’re bringing people together.
“There is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”
When we gather, we don’t separate anymore. We don’t compete anymore. We don’t siphon off into different groups. We come together from whatever background, whatever culture. In the Church, there’s cooperation, there’s not competition. That’s who we are. These are the people.
And then he says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,” — he’s given us five vices of sexual immorality that are community-destroying sins. He’s given us five vices of speech that destroy the local community and destroy the witnesses. Now, he’s going to give us five virtues that we should be based on the fact that we are God’s chosen ones, we are God’s holy and beloved.
Listen. Lean in here. Many people come to church. They come to church on a regular basis. They wonder where they’re at with God. They wonder if He loves them. They wonder if they’ve done wrong or whatever. There’s all this fear, paranoia, guilt, anxiety about God. Listen to me. If you have said, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and I believe He rose again on the third day,” let me encourage you, as your pastor, you are a chosen one of God. You are holy and you are beloved. And see, Paul says it’s because we are this that we do this. He doesn’t say, “Do these things so that you can be a Christian.” It’s not do/be. So, the Christian song is not, “Do, be, do, be, do.” Right? Have you got that with me? It’s not the way it is. It’s out of who we are, it’s because we are children of God that we live this life out, that we have God within us, His Spirit within us, that we live this stuff out.
He says, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,” — these people that you are. This is who you are — “have compassionate hearts, be kind, be humble, meek, and patient.”
Be these things. Now, lean in here for a second. If we could just get this right, wouldn’t the world be a better place? You know? I mean, just this. Like, “Hey, I came to church and I learned five words that changed my life.” You know? I mean, it’s great stuff. This is it just right here. He says, “Hey, listen, these things are going to kill the community. You’re not doing these things to be in the community. You’re doing these things because you are the community of the Lord Jesus. Okay? So, don’t be this way. Don’t let these things come in. Be what you are. Compassionate, kind, humble, meek and patient. This is who we are.”
He says, “Bearing with one another,” — because we’re compassionate, kind, humble, meek and patient, we’re going to bear with one another.
Think about this for a minute. Most churches in America, we don’t bear with anybody. We just get mad and go to another church. That’s not what we’re supposed to look like. That’s not who we are.
He says, “Bearing with one another, if one has a complaint against another, forgive them.”
Don’t fight them. Forgive them.
“Just as the Lord forgave you, so you forgive.”
He’s like, “Look, do you understand the cross? Do you understand? Do you remember when you came to the cross? Do you remember when you had that moment that went off in your head that Jesus loves me and you knew where you were and you knew the wretchedness of your sin? And what He did is He extended a hand to you. He loved you. He showed you humility. He didn’t have to do that. He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords. He stretched out and He was patient with you and kind and humble and all of these things.” He says, “Listen, this is who we are. We bear with one another and we forgive one another, just as Christ did for us. When we live this way in here, what it does is it means that we’re probably going to look a little bit better when we go out there.”
You know what I’m talking about? But if this isn’t going on in here, then it’s definitely not going to look any different than the world. And when you say, “Let me tell you how Jesus can change your life,” people are going to go, “I’m not sure I want the change that you got, buddy. I mean, I don’t know. I do the same hand gesture on University. You know what I’m talking about?”
Anyway, bearing with one another if one is complaining. It’s a little early. Some of that caffeine kicked in. It was like a wave. Everybody’s like, “Oh, yeah. I get what he’s saying.” You acted like you didn’t. Like, “I got it at the beginning, hunny.”
“As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
This is the crux of following Christ in community: Bearing with others and forgiving others as Christ has for us. This is really community living. And Paul’s saying this is all about the team working together.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
So, you can put on love, self-sacrificial love, serving love, bear with one another. Be the Church, be Jesus in the community, represent Jesus in everything that we do.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your [plural] hearts,”
The peace of Christ resides here. See, again, we’re so individualistic. Everything is me. “I’ve got the peace of Christ. I’ve got this.” No. The holiness of God, the righteousness of God. He’s presenting a bride that is holy. Not all of us have arrived. Not all of us have gotten there. I mean, practically speaking and positionally speaking, we are holy, but it’s the Church. What does Paul say? “Jesus died for the Church,” in Ephesians 5. That’s a big deal to Jesus, His church. And sometimes we think, “Well, I’m just going to say a prayer and then I’m going to go find a church that I like. That’s what it’s all about.”
It’s not all about that. It’s not all about getting some little prayer right and then finding some place that you like. This is about being on a team. This is about storming the gates of hell as a community. This is about representing Jesus. This is the highest stakes game in town.
He says, “Let the peace rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”
Listen to me. Can you imagine people that were going through difficulties? What do we do as Americans? What do we do? We hole up. We go home, deal with it, come into church. “Oh, fantastic.” They’re like, “Dude, you just lost your car. They came and towed your car.” And you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know that was going on.” Come on, brother. You know better than that. I mean, can you imagine if we really bought into this thing and somebody came in here and said, “Hey, my marriage is in shambles. I need somebody to help me out.” Is there anybody in here that wouldn’t come up here and start loving on them and praying for them and visiting them? Because the peace of Christ resides here. This is a team effort here.
He says, “And be thankful.”
I love how he always throws that in there. “Be thankful. Have an attitude of gratitude.” You know?
He says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,”
We believe that. We come in here, “Oh, I hear the Word of God and get good teaching and all this stuff.”
But he also says, “Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
See, this is why the Church, throughout the ages, has done worship and Word, because this is what it says. I’m going to meddle here for a minute. I’m going to meddle. Just get ready. Hear me on this one. Worship is important to community. So, when you decide, as your individual self, that you’re going to roll in on the third song because you just really are here because you just want to hear the Word of God, what I can tell you is you are robbing your brothers and sisters of a great worship experience by not collectively all being here when we decide to worship God.
Some of you go, “I don’t like those songs.” I don’t like all the songs either. “Well, what do you do then, Pastor Chip?” You show up and you say, “God, I don’t even like this song, but I love You.” And I know that somebody in here, somebody in here is liking this song right now and I don’t even know what they’re saying, but hallelujah. I am here to worship You.”
If everybody came in with that attitude, our worship would be even better than it is when it takes the third song to get everybody primed on the pump. “Oh, yeah. Now we’re worshiping in the third song.” If we came in here ready to go, do you know what would happen? You’d actually receive the Word of God better than the way you do when you don’t worship the right, proper way. Alright. That’s called a pastoral meddle for a minute. Okay? Let’s continue on here.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
In everything that we do. Individually, but everything that we do collectively. That we realize we are called to be His holy Church in the city that we live that proclaims and lives the Gospel.
So, let’s look at some practical applications really quickly here. These are some real good Pauline truths from what we’ve read. First, if resurrection is a fact — and to Paul it is. You can even read in 1 Corinthians 15. He says, “If there’s no resurrection, there’s no Christianity. It’s all futile.”
If it’s a fact, then it will have influence on how we live life now. We talk about eschatology in theology. It’s like the study of last things. Everybody wants to know, “When’s Jesus going to come back? How’s that going to look?” For Paul and the Church, eschatology’s not about learning about His return. Eschatology is about realizing what it’s going to look like when He does return, and how that impacts us now. That’s why he says to the Thessalonians, “You don’t have to grieve these people that have died. You don’t have to grieve these people who have no hope because Jesus is going to come back one day.” The fact that that’s out there changes the way that we live now. Like hurricanes. I mean, if you knew a hurricane was coming — well, here in Florida, we don’t do anything but go buy beer and have a party, but you know what I’m talking about.
Most people — most people, knowing that a hurricane is coming, are actually going to do some preparedness, thinking, “I want to make sure that my house doesn’t get destroyed,” and everything else. What eschatology is, looking out there is, the fact that there’s a resurrection out there, it has implications for how we live our life now. Eschatology influences ethics. We’ve warped that. Everybody’s trying to figure out the beast and the crowns and everything. Just listen to me. I teach systematic theology. They pay me to teach it. Nobody — I don’t care who your friend is, I don’t care what TV program that you watched. Nobody knows for sure what’s going on in Revelation. Just hear me. I’m telling you the truth. Okay?
“Let me tell you about Revelation.”
No. You need to tell people about Jesus. Okay? So, if resurrection is a fact, then it will have influence on how we live now. See, to Paul, acknowledging God’s promises for the future, knowing that they’re out there, means to be faithful in the present. You’re living what you are. You’re living what you’re going to become. So, what you’re doing is you’re living in light of eternity. You’re looking at what’s out there and you’re trying to be. That’s what Jesus said to pray. He said, “Pray Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, if resurrection is true, then it has implications for the way that we live our life.
Now, if that’s a fact, then community witness is priority in the life of a believer with insiders and outsiders. So, it’s no longer, “How can I get my Jesus on?” It’s, “How can I contribute to the Jesus that will be represented in the community?”
That should be the greatest Get Out of Jail card for everybody because none of us are going to live fully a life that reflects everything about Jesus, but collectively we can definitely look like Jesus to Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and the Bradenton area if we’re willing to do this thing together. And it should be a priority in the life of a believer. Because here’s the way it works: We’re not our own. I know that goes in the face of culture, but Christ does. He confronts culture. We’re not our own. The Bible says that very clearly. You are not your own. You have been bought with a price. Not your own.
That being true, we can’t do it our way. In other words, there’s no Frank Sinatra Christians in the body of Christ. Okay? I like Frank. He’s great and everything, but that’s not what the body of Christ is about. So, if this is true, if we’re not our own and we can’t do it right, what is Christ’s vision? What is His thing on the earth? What is He looking for? He’s looking for His Church to look like Him. Okay? Which means that if Christ is our focus, then the Church will be primary. People tell me, “I’m going to go find Jesus.”
I’m like, “You cannot find Jesus on your own. You can’t.”
It takes others. It takes the body. It takes Scripture. It takes prayer. It takes community. It takes all of us together to fully understand the Word of God, to fully understand what it means. You can’t be kind to your self. You can’t love just to your self. You can’t forgive just to your self. All of these attributes imply that there’s a team. We’re part of a team. So, the Church will be primary which means the outreach, the poor, the hard work we do at work in serving and others and all the things that we do, in everything that we do, what we’re doing is we’re going, “Hey, I’m doing this because I believe I’m a part of a team that’s doing something great. I’m a part of it. I’m not the end all and be all. It’s not about just me. It’s not about my individualism. It’s about all of us together doing something great for God, which is why He ends by saying, “The ultimate aim of the Christian walk is that in everything we do, it’s done to the glory of God.”
As people, as individual and as a church, everything. So, think about this. Our relationships, our house, our job, our money, our ethics, our enemies, fun, marriage — whatever it is, whatever you want to put here, every single one of these things, imagine if in your mind you realized that all of this is not about you, it’s about what God is doing in the midst of the local church, and everything that we have here is a stewardship as an individual that we bring into the team so that the team can adequately reflect Jesus to the community.
Man, it’ll change the way you live. It’ll change everything because everything in our life then becomes a witness to the glory of God because we’re not ourselves, we’re not our own. We’ve been bought with a price. And see, I believe, passionately, because our culture affects the way we see Jesus and affects the way we read Scripture, I think the reason why the Church is in such a backward movement right now is because we need to recapture the vision that God had for the local church and fight for this thing. Because it is under attack and the enemy doesn’t want the Church to be successful in a local environment because we have the message that changes people’s lives, and His name is Jesus and we need to reflect Him as a local community.
Amen? And that’s not guilt ridden, and, “I’m not living up.” That is who you are. Let’s be who we are.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your goodness and Your mercy. I thank You for Your kindness that leads us to repentance. Lord, I pray right now, in Jesus’ name, that we would really get a download of what Your Scripture is saying to us. It’s contrary in so many ways to the things that we’ve heard and the way our souls have been groomed within the cultures that we’ve been raised in. But, Lord, we’re not after culture. We’re not after those things. We are after Christ. We want to be like Him. We want to look like Him. We want to be people that honor what You’ve told us in Your holy Word to be like.
So, Lord, I pray here at Grace that You would move on us, that You would move in us, that You would move through us, Lord, to be the community of faith that You’ve called us to be that represents Your Son not only through the proclamation of the Gospel, but through the transformed lives that the Gospel does in the heart of the community of faith.
Lord, give us team spirit. Give us team vision. Remove our eyes to we and let us understand that we are a part of the greatest thing that the world has ever seen and will ever see, which is that we’re a part of the Kingdom of God represented in the local church to represent the King of kings and the Lord of lords to everybody in the local community for Your glory and for Your honor.
So, Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here today, that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us, I pray that You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again. Lord, I pray that You would help us to stay focused on being the Church that You’ve called us to be, which is to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. Lord, we love You, we thank You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, and all of God’s people said, “Amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.