The following post is the manuscript of a Sunday teaching I delivered on May 24, 2020.
Growing up playing sports there was a common maxim, “Play for the name on the front of the jersey not the name on the back.” Usually, it’s your team or school, while the personal name is on the back. There have been different variations such as play for the one on the front so that they will remember the name on the back, or even play for the name on the front first and then remember whose name is on the back; do them both justice.
The idea was simple: the way in which you played the game was just as important as the outcome of the game. The way in which you played followed you off the court, field, mat, etc.
Paul is reminding the Colossian believers that they are playing the infinite game, one that goes beyond the metaphorical final buzzers in our lives. Winning arguments. Jockeying for power. Getting people to play by their temporary rules, the false teachers, were attempts to create a finite game, when we were meant for an eternal one.
Live in the present as the kind of human you will become. Two weeks ago we looked at the difference between the Christian community and other types of community. Last week we looked at how the new humanity is characterized.
In today’s teaching passage, the apostle Paul continues to describe the character of the church that is committed to the goal of the church, which is a goal of eternity in mind.
How does a church know if it’s committed to the goal?
Here’s the great thing: If you are an unbeliever or you are disconnected from a church, you can use this question to look at Generations Church or other Churches.
Four ways a church knows if it’s committed to the goal of being the embodied Jesus in the world:
- Peace of God rules
- The Word of God dwells
- The reasoning is “because of Jesus.”
- The people are thankful
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body.” The rule of the peace of God means that peace should characterize the community of God’s people and that peace is a standard for discerning God’s will.
“Rule” translates a Greek verb that refers to the activity of the “umpire” who renders verdicts in contested situations. In general, Paul wants the Colossians to make “peace” the arbiter, the factor that should be given preference over competing concerns and interests. As the church makes decisions, in choosing between alternatives, in settling conflicts of will, a concern to preserve the inward and communal peace should be our controlling principle. Pray over preferences
Peace with God leads to peace with others.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs: The new human walks in the word of God and in worship with other believers.
“Dwell in you.” This is a picture of permanence. It’s the difference between a tent and a house. A tent is temporary because it can be moved. The house has a foundation that put into the ground.
Teaching is theological and moral instruction. Admonishing is the kind of instruction that reminds, reveals, and rebukes in order to get someone into proper shape.
Music: The songs we hear play an important role in the formation into Christ-likeness. Charles’ role and the team’s role is important because nothing is worse than a catchy song that doesn’t teach the truth about God’s word.
Paul is urging the community as a whole to put the message about Christ at the center of its corporate experience. Keeping Jesus in mind…competing thoughts and priorities.
Keep it central without setting it aside. We all can’t admonish one another on Sunday morning…you must connect with people Monday through Saturday. Fight for relationships with others. Those moments when you watch a good show or have read a good book or your kid does something funny–with that same ease you are able to share what God is teaching you, how you received a blessing from someone else.
“Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The new human lives their life, all their life, for Jesus.
He will only seek to do the things that he may do in the name of the Lord Jesus, and he will persevere in the difficulty of doing such things, knowing that he is doing them in the name of the Lord Jesus.
To do all things in the name of Jesus does not mean simply utter Jesus’ name but to act always in concert with the nature and character of Jesus.
“The Christian (whether of the apostolic age or any generation), when confronted by a moral issue, may not find any explicit word of Christ relating to its particular details. But the question may be asked: What is the Christian thing to do here? Can I do this without compromising my Christian confession? Can I do it (that is to say) ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus’ — whose reputation is at stake in the conduct of his known followers? And can I thank God the Father through him for the opportunity of doing this thing?
Even then, the right course of action may not be unambiguously clear, but such questions, honestly faced, will commonly provide surer ethical guidance than special regulations may do. It is often easy to get around special regulations; it is less easy to get around so comprehensive a statement of Christian duty as this verse supplies.” – FF Bruce
You see this front and center in our vision “because of Jesus.” We want our actions to be traced back to the simple motive that’s connected to the love Jesus has for us. That same love shows up in a care for people and passion to know the God that loves us and proved it to us in Jesus.
How does a church know if it’s committed to the goal?
The peace of God rules. The Word of God dwells. The reasoning is “because of Jesus.” The people are thankful.