Monday, April 1, 2019

One Supreme Pursuit - Colossians

Colossians is one of the prison letters. That means that it was written to the church in Colossae. This church was near the Asia Minor churches (modern day Turkey) that all had letters written to them in Revelation 2 & 3. Possibly the issues that they faced as Paul wrote nearly 40 years before the book of Revelation was penned had been dealt with. That is important to consider because the issues that were occurring in Colossae were serious. Paul wrote this letter to correct doctrinal problems that dealt with the deity of Christ, the worship of angels, and harsh human regulations. It seems as if there was a serious problem with combining of other religions with the purity of what Christ taught and therefore needed to be addressed for the sake of the purity of the church. There were false teachers in the church who were leading the people of God away. This letter was critical to the people of God in Colossae that they might “remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:23).
For that to happen, there are issues that must be absolutely clear to those who are waling with Christ.

1. Christ Has Influenced the World through the Prayers of His Church (Colossians 1:3-12)
From the beginning of the letter, there was an understanding of these “faithful brothers” (v. 2). Their faithful living was strong enough that thanksgiving day was everyday when it was said that “We always thank God…when we pray for you” (v. 3). And there was a reason for that, “Your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints” (v. 4). That certainly was reason enough for thanksgiving when praying for them. They had also heard the truth of Gospel as it was “bearing fruit and growing all over the world” (v. 6). This was the same Gospel they had heard and believed. Their current pastor, Epaphras, had started their church and was faithful to that clear and simple message (v. 7).
Then as a demonstration of how Paul spoke to the Lord on their account, he broke out in prayer (v. 9). This was not like our typical prayers we often call out for God to answer, it was about: (1) knowing God’s will (v. 9b), (2) walk worthy of the Lord, (3) bear fruit (4) grow in the knowledge of God, (5) strengthened with power, and (6) endurance and patience with joy (vv. 10-11).  Note to self: there was not one single ingrown toenail prayed for. There was not one single sick friend of a friend. There was not one homework assignment nor any invoking of God’s wrath on that person that tried to run another chariot off the road. Every one of the requests had to do with spiritual growth, strength, and testimony. It’s not that we can’t pray for those things, but why do we all spend the majority of our time praying for those things that will soon be gone. As Jesus warned us about building our lives on those things which are “here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow” (Matthew 6:30). Lord, keep our hearts and minds and prayers on the eternal. That’s how our influence on the world will be experienced in full measure.

2. Christ Has No Rivals in in His Divine Supremacy (Colossians 1:13-29)
Paul now moved to the only way to think of Christ. He is the One who in every way is superior to everything else. That is why He has “enabled us to share in the saints inheritance” (v. 12) and has “transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves” (v. 13). Because Jesus is the superior One who gives us a superior life. Without His superiority, we have no opportunity to receive all that Paul just prayed about. How can that kind of prayer be answered by a second-rate Savior?
We are told that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (v. 15). The actual understanding is this, Jesus is the exact and visible representation of God. To be first born does not mean that He was created, but lets us begin to understand that He ranks over all creation as the supreme authority. That leads Paul to say why that is, Jesus was the One who created it all. Another reason that He could not have been created, He was the Creator Himself (v. 16a). He is the One who has always been and will always be. But not only is Jesus the Creator of the physical, but that which is invisible. It is through Him that all authority emanates as the Creator of all thrones, dominions, and rulers (v. 16b). He literally holds all the universe together by the act of His will (v. 17). Surely, we can trust our Lord Jesus to be the Head of the church. Certainly, we can also trust Him to be the head of our beloved Northwood Baptist Church. He rose from the dead, so He earned the right through His very death and resurrection to “have first place in everything” (v. 18). For that reason, it brought God the Father the greatest pleasure to “have all His fullness dwell in Him (Jesus)” (v. 19). That also meant that through Jesus all things could now be reconciled. Oh, the power of the Cross that made peace for us all though His blood in every single part of creation (v. 20). That act alone of the supreme One who created it all and rules it all made it so we can not only be reconciled, but that we all may live righteous and holy, “faultless and blameless before Him” (v. 22). That truly is the heart of the Gospel which must be guarded by the church in such a way that she will never be “shifted away form the hope of the Gospel” (v. 23).
As a servant of Christ and His Gospel, Paul had one driving force, “to make God’s message fully known” (v. 25). That message is to be completed in each of us as this same Christ, now lives in us. He Is our guarantee of our hope of glory (v. 27). So, as a part of His church, we strive with all our strength to present every believer “mature” in Him with all of His power working is us.
For each of us, Christ Jesus reigns supreme so that we might offer Him supreme reign in our lives. The Creator of all wants to create in us maturity and holiness. The Ruler of all wants the rule of our hearts offered to Him freely and without reservation. He calls each of us to that relationship.

3. Christ Has Supremacy over our Very Hearts (Colossians 3:1-17)
Chapter 3 shifts the Colossians letter from the doctrinal to the practical. The thoughts of the believer are not to be based on the earth and its philosophies, but on that which is “above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God” (v. 1). This is how we focus on true Christian living and not some trumped up religious activity that are dependent on earthly philosophies. For the believer, earthly focus is wasted focus. As believers, we are put to death that which has been and always be both unholy and immoral. Things like sexual immorality, impunity, lust, and greed to name a few (v. 5). These are the types of activities and passions that belong to the worldly nature. This is how we lived before Christ lived in us (v. 7). Just a reminder as to what life was like, we are also exhorted to put off sins that pour out from an unchanged heart including anger, malice, and filthy language. These attitudes reveal themselves from our what we think about. Sin revealed will shout at us who we really are. Jesus taught us that “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Our mouths are an accurate barometer of our hearts. When our knowledge is renewed, so is our heart language that is demonstrated by what we say (vv. 8-10).
Once we have put off sin, in order to continue allowing Christ to reign supreme in our lives, we need to also put on righteous living. This description of our holy clothing is simply beautiful: compassion, kindness, humility, acceptance, forgiveness (vv. 12-14). That is what control of our hearts is like. When our Messiah, Jesus, rules our hearts as our supreme authority, there is a richness about that kind of abiding relationship that changes us form the inside out (vv. 15-16). No longer are we driven to gripe, instead, we worship. No longer do we use filthy words, instead, we speak words of wisdom. No longer do we get angry with people who annoy us. Instead, we sing songs that demonstrate the Spirit of God that abides in us. A heart that is ruled by Christ is a heart that beats with gratitude. That then becomes our reason for existence. Jesus becomes our reason for all that we do. He becomes our very own supreme pursuit which permeates every part of our life.
--Trey Rhodes

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