The Highlight Reel

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Colossians 4:18

I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

CONSIDER THIS

And so it ends. Colossians is in the books. Before we leave it behind, I wanted to revisit a few of my favorite highlights. Let’s tip these dominoes one more time.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. (Col. 1:1–2 NRSV) 

The issue is not whether we will live in Colossae or not. We must live there or Cincinnati or Centerville or wherever it is we have been appointed to live. The question is whether we will live in Christ or not. Will I become a bona-fide in-Christ-one? This is the awakening we must have. This begins to happen when my attention turns from my disgruntlement with the insanity around me to my discontent with the incongruity within me. When this awakening becomes greater and greater within us it leads to the awakening becoming greater and greater around us.

In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. (Col. 1:3–6 NRSV)

To be sure, the gospel is the message of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, but in a far greater sense, the gospel is who Jesus Christ is to us and in us and through us for the world. The gospel is not a body of knowledge about who God is and what God has done. It is actually knowing God.

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:11–14 NRSV)

I think I used to think I didn’t need to be rescued, that I wasn’t one of those kinds of people. Sure, I knew I was a sinner, but not that bad. I just needed a little Sunday school-esque straightening of the collar. Now I know better. The kind of sinner I thought I was is actually the worst kind of sinner because we think since we didn’t ride the Titanic to the bottom of the ocean we somehow don’t need as much grace as the ones who did. Now I recognize this as a lie from the pit of hell. The dominion of darkness is oh-so-deceptive. We all must be rescued, especially me. In fact, I will never become a real Christian until I know I am a real sinner.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Col. 1:15–16)

We must see Jesus. We were made to behold him. His life, not in general but in a thousand specifics, must become our vision. His preexistence, preeminence, conception, birth, life, words, deeds, miracles, relationships, signs, sermons, parables, prayers, suffering, passion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, return, and eternal reign must become our holy obsession. This is the message Paul offers the Colossians and the Columbians, the Americans and the Africans, and everyone else. We must see Jesus. We must fix our gaze upon him.

I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:2–3)

The way is together. Here’s the part that is not apparent to those of us who happen to be twenty-first-century Americans. When Paul identifies the mystery as “Christ in you,” what he really means is “Christ in y’all.” The you, as is the case so often in the New Testament, is plural. The New Testament rarely addresses me as an isolated, individuated, privatized person. To be sure, God addresses me personally, but my identity is not primarily as an individual. In fact, this is more a sign of my brokenness. I simply cannot know who I am outside of my relationship with God. And here’s the kicker: I can’t know God apart from other people. That’s where we want to push back.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Col. 3:5). 

What would it mean to walk that last mile, escorting my sins to the death chamber? How many times have you walked your sins to the death chamber only to walk them back to the cell again?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Col. 3:12)

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience aren’t virtues to which we must aspire. No, they are our uniform. Think of them as the pads a football player wears in order to play the game. Mustn’t this be what Paul means when he says, “clothe yourselves”?

The dominoes keep on tipping. May they never stop.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the Word behind every word of your Word. Make me a person of this Word, all the days of my life. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. What insight(s) do you take away from this journey through Colossians?
  2. What are the implications of this insight(s)?
  3. What intention(s) do you carry forward?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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3 COMMENTS

  1. J D, you ask: What insight(s) do you take away from this journey through Colossians? There are many, but I’ll list the major one that come to mind. (1) We’ve all been chosen, called and gifted to do ministry within the kingdom of God. (2) Our ministry is done through us by Jesus as He lives His life in us, in fellowship with the other members of His body, the Church. (3) I am more determined than ever, to seek out and to share with others, the hope we have in Christ Jesus; to surrender my will to His will as much as I am able; and to unite with as many like-minded believers as possible to pray for and live into the next Great Awakening. I know it is coming, I want for myself and others to be prepared.

  2. It’s easy to blame and be disgruntled with the insanity around me. It’s difficult not to constantly deny my discontent with the incongruity within me.

    We need to continually live in the community of Christ (not just “attend” it on Sunday morning). Until the community of Christ in us and Christ in others becomes the community that shapes our thoughts, opinions, emotions, desires, and behaviors, the physical city that we live in will seduce, brainwash, and hold us in bondage to its values.

    Information about Jesus that doesn’t produce the fruit of the Spirit is mere head knowledge. It is analysis instead of spiritual transformation.

    Unless we allow Jesus to transfer us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God, the strength that comes from His glorious power will seem mythical to us. Even when we profess to believe it, we won’t experience it as reality in daily life.

    Unless we behold the living Jesus, Christians are like sports fans seated behind the goal post. We can hear the words coming from the PA (Pastor Address), but we don’t have a very good view of the game.

    When people are united in love, they become encouraged in heart. Discouragement finds its home in prideful isolation, stubborn independence, and self-imposed loneliness.

    When we sin, we execute (as in “carry out”) the ungodly desires of our human nature. When we repent, we execute (as in “put to death”) our sinful desires.

    When Paul says: “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” he’s talking about our inner self, not just our outer self.” It’s not enough to drape those characteristics over our behaviors, we must also cultivate them in our heart.

    Insights without the power to do right are short sighted. We can carry good intentions forward, but intentions rarely carry us forward. Intentions are like buying a fancy treadmill to lose weight. Unless we “pound the pavement,” the pounds won’t go away. Intentions frequently reveal that no matter how much we want to change, we lack the power to permanently change ourselves–that we are sinners who need to be redeemed by a Savior.

  3. One of the realizations of acceptance (chioce) of Christ in me is that my identity changed. I no longer identify myself as my sinful nature (sinner) but as a child of God, Priesthood of all Believers, and disciple of Christ. I am a child of God who can choose to sin, but I’m no longer a sinner who needs to choose Christ. My spiritual position has changed. My clothing of sin is replaced with Christ’s clothing. I am covered in his blood of healing and sainthood. Me choosing Christ means He already chose me.
    When a sergeant in the army is promoted to an officer, he no longer identifies himself as a sergeant. He can still think and act like a sergeant if he chooses, but he’d miss out on an officer’s benefits (blessings). As part of the body of Christ, we must not forget our new identity. It is a humble, glorious yet accountable position.
    Thank you, Lord.
    Amen

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