Colossians: Taking it to the Church
There is a phenomenon that is happening today. According to a report from CBS News, in a time when there are more people than ever, nearly half of Americans now say they sometimes or always feel alone, and one in five says the rarely or never feel close to anyone.
One researcher says that social media is part of the why this is so. It seems that the more social media we use the lonelier we are likely to be. It gives and portrays false images which lead us to think, “Wow, I can’t measure up with my very normal life.” In fact, in our own town, we see people walking with their faces buried in their phone and failing to socialize or talk with those around them.
God designed the church to be a place where lives become entwined with Him and with others and this is evidenced in our study of Colossians. There are at least four areas in which we can do and be as a church to help change this stigma of loneliness. We can find them in .
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
The Commission to Evangelize
The Commission to Evangelize
Jesus told his disciples in to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” We know this as the Great Commission. Paul says that this commission to evangelize is part of his ongoing ministry. He says he has become a servant of the church by the commission which God gave to him to present the word of God in its fulness.
When we share the Word of God in its fulness we are showing from Genesis to Revelation the redemption that comes through Jesus. We are sharing the Good News. The word of God in its fulness is a beautiful way we learn about what Jesus has done for me and you. The writer of Hebrews states that
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
We can be assured that we have a story to tell and share to others. God does not want us to keep to ourselves what He has done in us. We are reminded here from Paul that God has chosen us to make known the “glorious riches of the mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” In verse 28, we the words “proclaim Him.” This means to announce something publicly. How have you announced publicly what Jesus has done for you? Perhaps we need to have a time of training where we learn how how to share our faith. Not only are we commissioned to evangelize, we are given the command to equip.
We are called to share
The Command to Equip
The Command to Equip
Command to Equip
Command to Equip
Right after the statement “We proclaim Him” we see a couple of words that help us equip the church. Admonishing and teaching. Admonishing means to rebuke or warn. This came about because the Colossians were being influenced by false teachings. Even today, we need to beware o the teachings we have in church and make sure that are of sound doctrine. When one admonishes, the Bible says we should respect them.
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.
And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
Part of the equipping that Paul is speaking of here is to help those that admonish be heard. I think it is very unique here that this verse just doesn’t say admonish and that’s all. It says to be admonishing and teaching. Admonishing is incomplete without teaching. We can warn people all day, “be careful this and be careful about that,” but it if we don’t teach the truth of why, we are not doing any good. We must be a church that is about teaching the truths of God’s Word. Are you in a position to study, learn and grow in God’s Word? Are you able to do so as an individual and are you doing so in a group?
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
In order for this to happen in our church, we need teachers, we need new classes. We should strive to start new opportunities to study God’s Word in women’s groups. men’s groups, youth groups and children’s groups.
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.
The emphasis is that the Lord has assigned tasks to His servants. There is something for you to do! Are you helping equip others?
The Christened to Energize
The Christened to Energize
This passage also calls us into action. I have used the phrase “Christened to Energize” as a point of action. Paul says in verse 28 that “to this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” What do you labor for? What is it that you strive to do? When I think of a christening, I think of a ceremony in which a ship is launched. When this happens, a ceremony takes place to celebrate its purpose and it to give it a blessing. We have something similar in the church when we baptize people. We are celebrating their new birth and also challenging them to grow in Christlikeness. When done right, there is an energizing that takes place propelling the new believer to share about his or her new life. We celebrate the hope of glory that Paul speaks of here.
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;
This is exactly what happens when we allow Christ to come in and take over our lives. Then we can say like Mary did when she heard that she was going to have a son:
for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
Do you hear the power that comes from that statement? When was the last time you testified about what the Lord has done for you? When was the last time you shared with folks other than your family what the Lord has done? When was the last time, for that matter, that you shared with your family something that the Lord has done?
When we are commissioned to evangelize, commanded to equip, and christened to energize, we are called to engage.
The Call To Engage
The Call To Engage
This is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. This wear the hammer drives the nail. This is where you and take what Paul is saying here and make it happen. We can hear sermon after sermon and do study after study, however, unless we are men and women of action, we are just going through motions and wasting time.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
You might say, “I have faith and I love my God so much!” You come to church and you believe. Congratulations, according to scripture, you have the faith of a demon! We must become a people of action! We must show others the love of Jesus and what that love can do for us and those with whom we share it! God has called each of us to live lives that engage others and point others to Christ. What are you doing to live out that calling?
You might say, now take it easy big boy....I am pretty comfortable with my life and I don’t need to engage others outside of this church. Really? That is so not the example that Paul is giving us here!
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
We admonish and teach.
We utilize the energy of Christ.
We allow the power of Christ to work within me!
Paul’s ministry included preaching, teaching, warning, taking the truth to all people, and to help every believer mature in Christ. When we answer the call to engage with others, we are doing at least one of these. Which one are you?
Perhaps you are thinking, “I can’t do any of those, I am not capable.” How big is your God?
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.
2 Timothy 4:17
But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.
Paul says in the last verse of our text
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
As I have studied Paul’s writings throughout the New Testament, I have realized that he was pretty phenomenal in his work. He overcame lots of things and was empowered to do lots of things for the glory of God. In fact, he was pretty spectacular in his accomplishments for the Kingdom of our Lord. Tradition holds that Paul probably wore a robe and sandals. Today if he was here he would be wearing a shirt, pants and shoes. I bet he would put those on the same way I do, the same way you do. In fact, I am certain there would be some things that he would do even today much better than I could do, but because God created us so uniquely, I am sure that there would be some things that I could much better than he could. I am sure that you in your uniqueness could do some thing much better than he could too! My point is that when it comes down to it, the bottom line is that Paul was a sinner saved by grace who decided to live his life for the One that saved him. Because of his work, the whole world has had the gospel proclaimed to it in some form or fashion. What will God do with you and me if we decide to live our lives for the One that has saved and called us?