Yesenia sat up in her bed when I arrived. I had an inspiration. Rather than asking her directly about her faith, her relationship with Jesus Christ, I decided to ask open questions so she could fill in the answers. I know her well enough I knew she would talk. First question: what do you think about?... Second question: what’s most important to you? She told me about her faith/her struggles/her children/her desires for her children. Last question: what do you want the world to know about Jesus Christ? Her honest answer: “keep trying. You may not get it at first, but keep trying.” We’d already talked about grace and she knew salvation wasn’t a reward for doing good things.
The questions are good for each of us, too: What do you think about? What is most important to you? What do you want the world to know about Jesus Christ?
This scripture is simple. We don’t need a lot of background to understand it; the words apply directly to us. Paul is writing a letter to the church at Colossae, a church he had never visited. Rather than addressing specific issues, he is encouraging them to remain faithful to their calling… “do not move from the hope…” or to say it positively, remain firm in your convictions. One translation says it this way: “Don’t drift away.”
Drifting is the great danger: the temptation to water down the faith/go through the motions/ allowing fear of our culture to quiet our words/ practicing our faith strictly in private. Drifting away from faith is more perilous than deliberately rejecting Christ because we aren’t even aware of the distance ~ you think you are sitting still in a boat a few hundred yards offshore in the ocean, and unless there is an anchor, you look up and suddenly see visual markers on the beach that were right in front of you are suddenly far away… the perils of drifting….
In the well know book Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis speaks from the perspective of Satan, describing the subtle ways he undermines faith by instilling complacency rather than direct challenges. Satan subtly replaces a relationship with Christ with religiosity. Drifting away from the cutting edge of faith for many people is a greater danger to undermine Christianity than outright rejection of Christianity and adopting an alternate set of beliefs. It’s easy to drift away from your diet, an exception here and there. Before long the way of eating you are trying to avoid is a way of life. Like drifting away from your commitment to go to bed early so you are not so tired at work… a exception here and an exception there soon becomes a way of life. Prov. 24:33-34 says it this way: “A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest ~ and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”
Our calling is to be on the cutting edge of faith. Conviction of what God has done in the past and confidence in the future, creates one who is “established and firm.” Be amazed by what God has done and humbled by where he is taking so that you are established and firm.
If you are floundering in faith, feeling directionless, uncertain, then take to heart the words of Paul as he writes to the Colossians. This is everyone’s past: READ Col. 1:21.
Every Christian has a unique story in how they came to Christ. Some stories are more dramatic than others. For me, I don’t remember NOT being a Christian. When I was just a few years old, my testimony was a solo I used to sing in this church (this is the song that when I would sing I would later be rewarded by my mother and father with a chocolate bar!), “Jesus is my shepherd, guess who I am, such a lovely secret, I’m his little lamb” Only I could not pronounce “L” so it came out “Yam”. If I ever write an autobiography I’ll probably call it, “God’s Yam”). I don’t remember NOT being a Christian. At times in my life I questioned God, I took steps backwards for sure, but I never felt abandoned by God or that I abandoned him.
Some people easily related to Col. 1:21 READ. They have memories of before and after, for some it is very dramatic, as they lived a life opposed to every value God stands for… others remember the hopelessness without Christ. Raise your hand if you are willing for people to ask about your story… No matter your story, whether like me or a dramatic before and after change, this verse is everyone’s story. You don’t drift into being a Christian, you don’t inherit faith. At some point, whether as a child or an adult, to be a Christian means to purposefully accept in your heart that Jesus is Lord and commit your life to Him with all the changes that means in heart, feelings and actions.
Make no mistake: we have been conditioned to not like the word “evil” and reject it as an overstatement! The truth: evil is real; without Christ evil will overrun us within, (we often ask what is your favorite Bible verse, maybe we should also ask what verses bother us the most!) Evil has a grip on us all. Jesus Christ overcomes the evil that is within every one of us… boy that is not politically correct to say or think… You were apart from Christ. Evil was dominate. That’s the unpopular truth. That’s the past.
Before we talk about the present, a few words on the future. “Do not move from the hope held out in the gospel” (Col. 1:23). Hope is always about the future. As believer in Christ, hope is about future promises of Christ ~ such as reconciliation, forgiveness, peace and satisfaction, eternal life… hope in Christ is always good. Where we came from and where we are combine for a confident TODAY.
The PRESENT is what brings Abundant LIFE. Col. 1:22 begins, “But now…” God wants us to be fully alive in Him NOW, he wants us to live/dwell on the NOW. READ Col. 1:22.
Reconciled. Restored. Mended. Humpty Dumpty has been put back together. The broken is now whole. This is the good news of Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ died for your sins, overcoming evil that is within, and fully restored us to God.
When Paul says we are “without blemish and free from accusation” that is a reference to the O.T. sacrificial system in which a perfect lamb was selected to sacrifice as a means of obtaining forgiveness of sins. The reason God instructed the people to select a lamb without any lameness, or poor quality wool, or health issues, or bad coloring is because he wanted it to cost something of the one seeking forgiveness, not an inferior animal you would never breed or use it’s wool or is likely to die early because it can’t suckle properly… The other reason is because the lamb represents the person asking forgiveness. A sacrifice is grace ~~ God is saying I will accept an animal in your place. Sin deserves death, but I will accept this animal. There is a real sense where I am “God’s Yam.”
When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he became the final sacrifice. He literally took my place. BUT Jesus Christ is more perfect than any lamb ever was. He took perfection to a new level by living a life without sin. The one who was perfect took my place. Today during communion, in a few minutes, I will do my best to serve communion in a way I never have. The bread represents the body of Christ on the cross, “he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death” the cup represents his blood. I am going to do my best to NOT talk to explain, but let the fullness of the symbolism speak for itself. I’ll pray before we eat and drink, “Thank you Lord…”
I have already spoken of Paul’s warning about drifting away, “don’t move from the hope held out in the gospel” drifting away is one of the greatest dangers we face. But rather, “continue in your faith, established and firm.” NOW is the time to reaffirm your commitment, to be amazed by what God has done, find courage in where he is taking us, so that NOW we can life a life that is worthy of Him.
What do you think about? What is most important to you? What message do you want the world to hear about Jesus Christ? The answers to these questions helps us evaluate where we are spiritually right NOW! The past is how you got to the place where you are today. The future is where you are going which makes a huge difference in how you live your life today. Don’t forget the past or take your eyes off the glorious future the Lord Jesus Christ has promised you, causing you to drift away from a cutting edge faith; remain established and firm right NOW. God wants you to believe in Him and live a life of confidence based on what he has overcome in you and where he is taking you. Amen.