For our walk to Easter this year we will use Colossians as a map. Why? Because Paul has so much to say about why we follow Jesus, who Jesus is, how to live out the Jesus life, and finally, maybe more importantly, that we need to “live our lives in Jesus, rooted & built up in him…” (2:6-7)
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Every letter starts with something note worthy, some kind of intro, something endearing perhaps, or something to get the reader’s attention. Colossians is no different.
- Paul is an apostle: sent, on mission, spokesperson for God
- This tells us who Paul is…
- Addresses this church as God’s HOLY people & faithful brothers and sisters
- This tells us who the Colossians are
- Sends grace & peace to them on behalf of God
- This tells us how God feels about them & us
After these introductory words, Paul gets right into it. His first theme: The kind of people they are and can be because of Jesus in their life.
What do you think about the term. “My kind of people” or “these are my people”?
– a big assumption
– Positive? Negative? Depends?
– Sometimes you wanna be associated with that ‘person’, other times, not so much 🙂
– If you’re a foodie and you’re with foodies you might say, these are my people…
– If you’re a golf nut and you’re with golfers you might say, these are my people (or you might say, we only have golf in common:)
– If you’re a starwars fan…a marvel fan…a teacher… a sneaker snob…a gym rat…a startrek fan…you get the picture
“THESE ARE MY KIND OF PEOPLE”
Paul, in this first chapter of Colossians, basically is saying, you are my kind of people, because, you are or at least you are becoming Jesus-y people!!!
Let’s read through part of chapter one and see what kind of people Paul is describing…
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People of faith & love (1:3-6a)
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.
This young church is showing two very important qualities: Faith in God, Love for others.
Two very important sides of a follower of Jesus.
If we were a coin, these would be the two sides we flip between, both coinciding and working together.
Paul, in addressing these people, wants to remind them that they need to be committed to these twin pillars: Faith & Love.
Where does he get this from? Jesus of course.
Jesus’ very own creed, in Mark 12, included this two sided coin as well: LOVE GOD – LOVE OTHERS.
Paul says, THIS IS THE MESSAGE that came to you. Live this out. Faith in God. Love for others. Spurred on by the hope we have in Jesus.
This begs the question: How am I loving God & loving others?
People with goodnews to share and goodnews to live (1:6b-8)
He continues with these words…
In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
Paul wants this young church to know that the message they’ve received isn’t just good news for them, but it’s good news for others, and it must be shared.
He commends them for how the gospel is bearing fruit , is growing, and is spreading.
He says something important:
- You learned it from Epaphras.
- (who is simply a local leader)(faithful, loving, living out his calling)
- They received it from someone
- They heard it from someone
- They learned it, not just from someone’s words, but someone’s life.
If that’s the case, then you, Colossians, and us, (insert the city you live in) need to in turn model this goodnews for others so that they catch if from you.
What do we learn here: that the gospel is a fruit bearing power wherever it is preached & lived.
This begs another couple of questions: What am I doing to share the good news? What am I doing to live the good news?
People who pray… (1:9-14)
Leading by example, Paul teaches them to pray… (and you thought we’d be done with prayer?)
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
I love how we get a glimpse into what’s important to this early church – what they value.
You get to know a lot about a person by what they’re praying. If you could listen in, you would know what they’re struggling with, what they love most, what they may be discerning at the moment, what hill or mountain they need to climb, what good thing may have just happened to them. All through what they’re praying.
First observation is that Paul, and his community of friends and Christian siblings are praying for another local church. Pretty cool. I wonder how many of us do that? Do you pray for every church you pass by? Probably not!
At the Village, we often say that every church is a good church for someone. If true, then we should be praying for them as much as we’re praying for us???
Second observation is that Paul specifically prays for…
- knowledge…of God’s will (ways/direction)…through the spirit’s wisdom
- that they would live lives that reflect who Jesus is…that bear fruit…that grow in their faith
- strength, endurance, patience (who does wish that someone was praying these 3 words for them?)
You can pray these already knowing that God is with you, helping you, rescuing you, loving you, redeeming you, forgiving you. (I LOVE THIS.)
One writer narrowed down this prayer to two requests
– discernment (knowledge)
– power (the ability to live out that knowledge)
Remember this: We pray, not to escape life, but to be better able to meet it head on.
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To bring this to a close I want to go back to the beginning of the text. We skipped it on purpose, so we can end with it.
What kind of people is Paul hoping this young church develops into? People who others are thankful for…
People who others are thankful for (1:3-4)
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have…
I hope you’ve had this happen to you before, and if you have, you’ll know what I mean. Someone comes up to you, writes you, texts you or calls you to say, “I am so thankful for you”.
Is this not the best compliment any of us could receive? Yes. I mean, we don’t ever do it for the compliment, but if we here this, we know we’re doing something right.
This best describes everything we talked about today. People who love God & love others; People who share good news and live good news; People who pray; They are people who others are thankful for.
I wanna be one of those kinds of people. You?
If you get nothing else from today’s conversation, may it be this…
“Live in such a way that others are thankful for you”
What does that look like?
- we respond to needs
- we give what God puts on our heart to give
- we take time to listen
- we love without condition
- we don’t judge others for their sins
- we pray for people
- we encourage people
- we bless people
- we are present, in the moment, with others
There’s a reason Paul starts this letter with these words. Take note. Be those kinds of people – Jesus kind of people.