Let His Message Fill Your Lives!
Let His Message Fill Your Lives!
† In Jesus Name †
My friends in Christ, may your lives be filled with the richness of Christ’s message – that He in love has chosen you to be the Holy People He loves!
What does this mean?
It is referred to as the “Lutheran Question”. Like our theology, it predates Luther and the reformation that God created – not just in our churches, but in Christianity. It goes back to a Greek Philosopher, named Socrates – a man who, like Luther, and like St Paul, the author of Colossians, irritated more than a few people.
His way of phrasing it was a bit different. He said that the unexamined life is not worth living. He would love the way Luther phrased it, as he taught young people and pastors, using the phrase, “What does this mean?”
We need to ask that question about our faith – what and why we trust in God – and we need to hear the answer – really hear and absorb it. The more I do, the deeper that trust becomes, the more the words of the songs and hymns we sing mean, for the more we desire to worship God. This is because the more we ask, “What does this mean”, the more we understand how great it is, that God works in our life.
This time of year then, as we gather to celebrate Christ’s birth, is as good a time as any to start asking that question again.
What does it mean that we trust in God, what does it mean that we hear Jesus was incarnate – that He was born into the world and that we are reborn – in Him?
Paul’s epistle this week answers the question, what does this mean? (looking at the manger …
What does it mean that Christ was born of Mary, that He was incarnate?
What does it mean… for us?
What does the incarnation mean…for you?
You’ve been chosen! GULP but that’s a good thing!
Practically, we find the answer to the “what does the incarnation, what does Christ’s birth mean” in our epistle reading this morning. Specifically there in verse 12.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,
There it is – because Christ came into the world, because He was born of the Virgin Mary, because He humbled Himself and left heaven to be here, to dwell among us we have been chosen to be His people. The people He loves.
Get this – His holy people.
We’ll get to what that means in a moment, but I want you to really hear this,
God chose you to be the holy people he loves,
I don’t think you can hear it enough times!
God chose you to be the holy people he loves,
The entire reason for the incarnation boils down to that, the reason He came – was to reveal to us His decision to make us His holy people – whom He loves!
That answer does raise yet again the question – What does this mean that He chose us to be the holy people He loves? What difference does it make? What effect does it have on your lives?
What Effect does being chosen mean in in your life
It changes your behavior – not who you are!
It’s the difference between getting dressed after your shower in the morning, or just walking outside without dressing!
That’s not my idea – that’s Paul’s!
Hear all of the sentence that begins in verse 12,
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
If you go outside without getting dressed appropriately, you are not ready to face the world- and they are definitely not ready to face you!
This is as true spiritually as it is physically – indeed I believe even more so. The things that describe how someone lives – who has been clothed with Christ, who has put on Christ, are not something we should dismiss as being legalistic, or to difficult, but it is indeed the way we are to live; for we live in Christ. The very change is generated in us in our baptism, as we are granted repentance, as we are given the Holy Spirit.
Without these things – without tenderhearted mercy, without kindness, without humility and gentleness and patience – we find ourselves out there naked – raw – our emotions not governed, our reactions neither modest nor controlled. We become merciless – and cannot find the strength to love – and we find ourselves excluding others and isolating ourselves, rather than being bound together in perfect harmony.
Which is why, in nearly every letter to a church – Paul talks of Christ first – and then of what it means for us to be in Christ – how we live, as members of His body, as living sacrifices – standing firm and reflecting His love to the world.
In this case, the relationships we have are well documented and worked through.
I find it interesting – and we will talk in Bible Study – about the burden being, not on the sinner, but on the one sinned against whom the sin was committed. The key becomes our acting Christlike, and putting the best construction on things, on making allowances as the passage talks of, of forgiving.
The more then we act like Christ – and do not allow the relationship to be broken, the more we find ourselves living together – even bound together in Christ’s peace, in the completeness that comes in Him. For it takes much more for a relationship to break – when both parties are forgiving and when we make allowance for each other’s faults.
How can This Be?
I have to admit – this sounds easier than it is, and that is why we need to hear it so often! To be reminded of how God has designed us to live – how we are to be imitators of Christ. To get back from where we started.
That is where we are challenged; we think these attitudes, even if we know better, originates by our work, by our will. Sometimes we get a defeatist attitude because, it isn’t hard to always be patient with each other, and often we do forget that we are dressed in these things, already!
I would so prefer it to read – you must be clothed – or be clothed, the verb there is imperative, but it is not active – it is middle/passive in voice – the work of being clothed – of putting on Christ is more than ours – and it has already been done.
In verse 12 it says that we have been chosen by God, and that we are chosen to be the holy people He loves. That choice has already been made, the work to present us holy, that has already begun. The peace of Christ, the peace that He generates… that will rule our lives that provides the harmony that too is His responsibility that is a blessing as well of our baptism!
Where our focus begins and ends – what makes living in Christ’s peace, what gives us the strength to love, to be patient and kind, is not our will, but what Paul urges us to do in verse 16.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
There is our key to dwelling in peace, to loving in such a way we are bound together.
It is found as we hear the word of God, as the Holy Spirit uses it, as on the day of Pentecost, to do heart surgery on us, to bring us to life, as Ezekiel says to remove our heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.
A slightly different take- but the same thing as being clothed with Christ – for all those attributes we are to show – are His. As we are transformed into His image – we take on those characteristics and we begin, whether we realize it or not, to live in them. To dwell in Christ, to cherish the words in our Bibles, to discuss it and deeply drink of its wisdom, and even more – the message of God’s love for you, His holy people – that is how we grow in love.
The more we spend in His word, and in meditation and prayer based upon it, the more we naturally resort to verse 16 – the rejoicing and praising and thanking God as we sing to Him. As we adore Him, for we realize the depth of His love for us, a love that He demonstrated in choosing us, in cleansing us, in filling us with His word, and His peace.
Posted on December 30, 2012, in Sermons and tagged Clothed with Christ, colossians 3 12 17, faults, forgiveness, god works, God's love, power of God, sin, spirituality, The Word of God, unexamined life is not worth living. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.