Today we focus on power and endurance ~ last week Chad talked about Wisdom as a need for the church. We are walking through Colossians. The scripture today is a prayer of purpose for the church. Listen to Col. 1:10. A monumental verse. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to apply this verse directly SACC. Let’s deliberately seek to live out our godly purpose us as a church, where we are going.
- Live a life worthy of the Lord. This phrase is intentionally ambiguous. There must be 10,000 expressions of what that looks like. It is specific enough, however, that you know the difference between a loving, affirming, encouraging, outreaching community of faith and a self serving, infighting, cloudy community. God surely wants of us to live in a way that is fitting of Christ, who loved us so much he died for our sins.
- “Please Him in every way” is similar. I’ve always liked the saying as a way to evaluate our actions, Would Jesus Be Pleased. For those on Facebook or other social media, I challenge you: scroll through your wall and look at the memes and ask, WJBP. Evaluate your own postings. As we face decisions in the church, let’s add WJBP as a way to evaluate everything we do, every change we make, every program we keep.
- “bearing fruit in every good work” ~ are we seeing godly results in our ministries? … meeting needs of people, seeing people grow in their faith, see people come to the Lord. Paul’s prayer is for the Church to be involved in the ever expanding Kingdom of God. Last week Chad spoke of Wisdom, the nuts and bolts of getting from where we are to where we want to go. If you are on the side of the road with a flat tire it’s easy to evaluate the problem (a flat tire) and where you want to go (an inflated tire). Wisdom is knowing how to put on the spare tire or calling the right person that will do it for you. Paul is urging the Church (US!) to get involved in the work of God so that we make a difference ~ bearing fruit. We know a lot of what God is calling us to do: continue loving and serving the community through outreach events, programs, acts of service… He wants us to get involved, to give ourselves away, to wisely use our resources. It takes wisdom to know how to get from here to there. Paul’s prayer says we are to do it with POWER and ENDURANCE.
- The last phrase in Col. 1:10 is equally important as a desire for the church: “Growing in the knowledge of God…” One of the important reasons we exist is to be a community in which the people are maturing in faith, growing in understanding, becoming more and more amazed at who God is… Much of what we do is for the purpose of discipleship: small groups, Sunday School, I would love to see us figure out more discipleship opportunities that are more modeled like a coach, like Jesus going out with his disciples in hands on ministries….
This is our purpose and direction: READ Col. 1:10. Wisdom is a standout means of achieving God’s purposes in Col. 1:9. V. 10 defines the purpose of the Church, what we are about and where we are going (obviously in 2018 in Sumas Washington we need to listen for the voice of God for the specific applications of serving him in our contest). And Col. 1:11 gives us two more tools of becoming what God wants for us: Power and Endurance.
It takes a certain amount of Power and Endurance to run a two mile race. I always liked track because I was not really a very good athlete and running allowed me to focus on improving myself regardless of what others were able to do. I always wished I could have been better. I understood watching a two mile race was not all that exciting. Ministry that is always moving and changing and getting results is exciting, but often times involvement in the work of the church takes endurance. I understood people leaving the stands and going home. Power and endurance. READ Col. 1:11
POWER. First thoughts? What’s the opposite of POWER? ___________. Our first instinct is weakness. But it can’t be weakness, because according to my understanding of what the Bible teaches, we are innately weak... We cannot save ourselves. We cannot be good enough to deserve God’s salvation. We are limited in our knowledge, our answers, our ability. In our own strength we don’t have the capacity to follow through with every good and perfect decision. The promise of God to people of faith is for Him to overcome our weakness and fill us with His strength so that we will have power, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, courage to do His will. The weakness is still there but God will give you a supernatural joy, a supernatural spirit of thanksgiving, a supernatural future, a supernatural peace, a supernatural hope, a supernatural love, a supernatural life changing forgiveness, a supernatural optimism to overcome this present darkness. There is a lot of darkness in this world folks, we cannot allow the darkness to overwhelm and constrain us because God has promised His power to overcome the darkness and instead be citizens of the Kingdom of Light. That’s what is says in Col. 1:12-14. READ.
Weakness is NOT the opposite of Power. God’s Power is a gift that lifts us up to overcome weakness. God’s power is a daily grace to overcome temptations, sins, the resistance of doing what we know God wants of us.
You know what I think is the enemy of Power? ~~ PASSIVENESS. I am convinced passiveness is one of the great sins of many churches in today’s world. I think we in Sumas need to be careful about falling into the trap of passiveness. Not deciding to do something is a decisions after all. I personally need to be careful having spent a lifetime battling the temptation…. To be passive is actively (ironically) resisting the POWER that God gives us. To not make decisions but to wait and react when we must is to be passive. Of course there is a time to wait, which takes the wisdom Chad spoke of last week, but there is also a time to make plans, to act within the scope of the power the Lord has given us.
POWER is not always a desirable gift because power means responsibility. Power means risk taking. The temptation is to be PASSIVE because we don’t always see immediate results, because we meet resistance, because change is hard.
It’s insightful to read Paul’s prayer in which he prays for POWER… “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…” Power is a gift from God. If we choose to live by the power of God, and it is a choice, that means we are choosing to no longer be passive, we are choosing to ask God to work through us even though we are weak, we are choosing to no longer see ourselves as victims of a hard world, but rather we embrace the power given to us by Jesus Christ: “according to his glorious might”. God has not given us unlimited power. I feel helpless when it comes to controlling the direction of our federal government (although I do have the power to vote!) but I do have the power to love my neighbor. We do have the power to serve our community. The good Lord has given us the ability to make decisions and follow through within the limits of our influence and resources.
Several decades ago I read an article about how most church boards are red lights. Every decision of the church goes through the board and the boards modify or put the brakes on. The idea of the article is one I’ve tried to bring to every board I’ve been a member of: be a green light. If at all possible say YES. In Sumas we’ve taken the idea further, we only have quarterly meetings on purpose and have set up our internal structure so that commissions have the power to make decisions and plans without the board approval at all. Let me say to all the commissions of our church: take the power you have been given and use it to please Jesus Christ.
The Lord has given every person power “according to His glorious might.” He has given this church power, or think of it as influence. Passiveness is a killer of power. Playing the victim derails power. Power means to be proactive. Power means to make plans. Power means to act boldly in the name of Jesus Christ. May we in Sumas take even greater risks according to the power the Lord has given us. May we embrace the opportunities that are before us to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Then Paul talks about endurance. Sigh. READ Col. 1:11. I like instant results. It seems so much of what I do as a Pastor takes weeks/months/years/never to see the results. Honestly, it is why I like the spring time when the grass grows and I get to mow my lawn. It take an hour and a half and boom, I stand back and it’s done. It’s why I like funerals. It’s over and done and I can often see a transformation begin to take place because a line has been drawn. Power combined with endurance is active waiting, an attitude of never giving up. The power the Lord has given us does not extend to how other people choose to respond to our invitation. It’s like running a two mile race. I understand why spectators don’t get a lot out of watching. The Lord gives us limited power to make decisions, to act, to love, to influence, but no power to change others. Endurance is a godly trait. Sumas/the world needs Christians that endure. Endurance means commitment. Endurance is waiting with open arms. Endurance recognizes the answers aren’t easy. A spirit of endurance allows the non-believing world an opportunity to test the church and see if we mean what we say…. Godly endurance/patience means we know our plans will not always succeed in our timing in our way, but we must wait. Godly endurance is to wait patiently with joy and thanks knowing God is ultimately in control.
It is well worth asking what our purpose is as a church, where are we going, how can we make the best decisions possible for how to get there. Our calling is to live a life worthy of Christ, to seek to please Jesus in everything we do, to bear fruit for the kingdom, and for each person to grow in faith. May we in Sumas consider everything we do in those terms, every plan, every program, every outreach event, every meeting. Paul’s prayer for the Church at Colossae is a good and awesome prayer for us as well. We will fulfill our calling from Almighty God as we go forward with godly wisdom, power and endurance. Amen.