The following post is the manuscript of a Sunday teaching I delivered on June 28, 2020.
Hey, Kyle Here! We made it! We are finishing up Colossians 4 today and have reached the end of our Colossians series.
It’s in today’s passage, we see that Paul’s letter isn’t some empty words out into the universe, but are reminded that his words are directed to real people in a real place and they come from real people in a real place.
The whole premise of this section of Colossians is….live as the kind of human you will become.
Paul is reshaping the most basic human institution, the roman household around the self-giving love of Jesus. To the point, it’s almost beyond recognition.
Paul applies these to actual situations with real people. Most naturally, we have to look at our own lives against Paul’s words and see if our life is moving in the direction Christ-likeness. We will get to that. Let’s take a look at some of the people Paul mentioned
- Tychicus – His purpose was to bring an update on Paul and encourage the Church. Paul was in prison. The prisons of the first century were not like our of today. They were responsible for their own care while awaiting trial. Paul had to rely on others.
- Onesimus – Tychicus was accompanied by a former slave to a Colossian Christian Philemon. This was a crime worthy of imprisonment. Paul asks the whole church to greet Onesimus as a faithful and beloved brother in the Lord. Just because Philemon had the right to imprison Onesimus doesn’t mean imprisoning Onesimus was right. There was a cultural framework that is reshaped by Jesus in Colossae. GenChurch let’s not give in to the pressure to divide an assert a certain set of rights above a commitment to Jesus.
- Mark – gospel writer – abandoned Paul – reconciled
- Epaphras – Living out devotion to pray so that they be matured
- Luke – Gospel writer and who traveled with Paul
- Demas – Who walks away from the faith because he loves the world more than Jesus.
Paul breaks down this closing letter with relationships with real people. Some need to hear encouragement. Some need to be confronted. Others need to be directed back to why they are following Jesus to begin with….this is not in isolation. There is more to share than what this letter provides.
This is one of the reasons both Jon and I push to have conversations with people in person about difficult subjects. The best practice to help you and me be formed into Christlikeness is through conversation. We take seriously having spiritual conversations with others face to face. In fact, the number one goal we have for those who are team leaders at GenChurch is spiritual conversations. It doesn’t take much to post something on social media or to talk about the weather with others in person. Everything we share and say at GenChurch is because of Jesus…therefore…even in our conversations, we must be able to trace of actions and conversations back to Jesus.
Let me take a moment to share how God has been at work even in the last couple of months. We have had an explosion of spiritual conversations with others.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with several different people. In each and every conversation, they have oscillated from tiredness to a desire to fight for change. Let me reiterate…these are real questions from conversations with those who aren’t followers of Jesus.
Questions like: How dark was Jesus? It never occurred to me he likely didn’t look like me.
How do I communicate all lives are precious to God without undermining the real need for systemic change? Is there something I could say where the political polarity on both sides wouldn’t shame me?
If I begin to follow Jesus, will I be just as angry on social media as other Christians?
I was able to share how one angry Christian doesn’t represent the whole….in fact…we have two values at Generations Church 1) called progress over perfection and the 2) Story over sin. I’ll address the second first, just as I was doing with them, sitting down and listening to the story, listening to the other person comes before any determination of wrongdoing. Then to the first, I don’t expect that person to be perfect, but given enough time following Jesus, there should be change. It’s not always the change to make them more like me, but change that there is a better picture of Jesus through there character and priorities.
I was even able to give a quick example from the very series Embodied……Put away anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language….and instead put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against one another….applies directly to this relationship here.
Let me just speak to our cultural moment: we have once again many moving parts…COVID-19 and masks, a call for justice for all, anti-authoritarian sentiments, a coming political election to which many have pledged their allegiance to…in the midst of all of this…the church is to be centered on Jesus. When you are centered on Jesus you will actively put away…and actively put on. These commands by Paul to the Colossians Church correlate directly to us in Generations Church.
Who have you personally connected with in the last week? Paul is at a distance with them…yet he still lets them know.
No part of human existence by the loving and liberating rule of Jesus.
Our suffering. Our temptation to compromise. Our moral character. The power dynamics in our homes.
We’re invited to live in the present as if the new creation arrived when Jesus rose from the dead.
We all get it wrong. The most freeing part of following Jesus, and one of the most difficult parts of following Jesus, is saying I was wrong. We place all kinds of mechanisms in our life to keep us from admitting when we are wrong. We create relational distance. We find voices and memes to justify our positions. We make comments with others to get praise to make us feel better–and release dopamine in our brains.
Today, you can come to Jesus and look at your life, admit where you haven’t been following the way of Jesus, and then take a step to reach out to someone else.
When I individuals who make up a church, repent and turn to Jesus, the watching world will take notice. We at Generations Church can freely acknowledge that we are a community of everyday people committed to expanding God’s family together because of Jesus for generations to come.