Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. -- Colossians 3: 16-17 (NLT)
When the Bible speaks about being a new creation in Christ, what is that supposed to mean for us practically? Sometimes we can speak to no end about doctrine and interpretations, or context and ancient languages, without realizing that all people want is application. How does what God instructs fit into my life? How does it apply within my day to day grind? I think this is the first level of problems within the faith. Too often we are trying to fit Christianity into our worldly existence instead of living our new life for Christ. The key verses today however, provide an excellent source of practical application for us to consider in our lives. About how to be that new creation. About how to live for Christ in a world gone wrong.
The first lesson Paul is teaching us here is what we need to fill our lives with. In this age of mass media and digital distraction, we see a new generation raised up whose lives are filled with dis-reality. The more advanced we have become; the further apart we have grown. As the moral underpinnings of our society continue to devolve and unravel, we see a coarsening amongst the people to what is right and what is wrong. But throughout all of the chaos and uncertainty there remains one constant. One thing that retains all of its power and richness. That is the message of Jesus Christ. And just what is that message?
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power. -- 1Corinthians 2: 1-5 (NIV)
The message of Christ is that He came to take away the sins of the world. That He died a horrible death upon a cross so that our sins might be forgiven before a holy God. That He paid our penalty and because of this, we now have eternal life. This is the Gospel beloved. This is the message about Christ. This is what we have to fill our lives with. Only this message has the power we need to navigate this world. Only this message has the assurances from God that we have been made right with Him. Only this message guarantees us that we will have life beyond this chaos and uncertainty.
Yet what have we turned to instead in modern Christianity? What have we filled our Christianity and thus our lives with? When we trade in the cross for social relevance, what are we filling our lives with? When we trade in a frank discussion about our sins and the need for repentance, what are we filling our lives with? When we trade in the realities of a holy God for the moral relativism of the world, what are we filling our lives with? A bloodless Christianity makes a horrible mockery of the sacrifice of Christ. When Christianity becomes about making this life your best life, then by definition there is no eternal life. The nature of leaven is to spread beloved. When you allow a little here and a little there, eventually the leaven spreads throughout the entire batch. We cannot continue to fill our Christianity with compromise and expect that it retains the power we need. As Paul said, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That is all we need because that is the Gospel. That is the richness we need filling our lives daily. It reminds us of the sacrifice made on our behalf. It reminds us of our place as sinners before a holy God. It reminds us of our victory in Christ over the spiritual powers of wickedness in this world. That is what we need. The modern church however is built on the seeker friendly purpose driven agenda which consciously downplays the very things about Christ that provide the richness and power we need. There is no power if Jesus is just our friend. It is in His Lordship over our lives that the true power of God is found. Practical application number one is to fill our lives with the true uncompromised Gospel message about Jesus Christ.
Secondly, besides our vertical relationship, God expects us to have productive horizontal relationships as well. Note that this letter is written to the members of the Church at Colossae. Not just for the elders. Not just for the pastors. Not just for the leaders. Everyone in Christianity has a role to play. We are supposed to teach and counsel one another. Quite frankly, I am sure we all know some in the church who do this too often! The key to this verse however is the qualifier. We are not just supposed to teach and counsel each other but to do so with all the wisdom God gives us! That is a different matter! The wisdom God has given us is His Word. We are supposed to teach and counsel each other with the Word of God. There is nothing like spending a few hours in fellowship with like minded believers and simply having sound Biblical conversations. I remember taking a class on Genesis once and in the first class I answered a question the teacher asked. It was a good solid answer filled with the wisdom of man. No one could disagree"except the teacher asked what verse I was using to back up my opinion. I froze and he said, "I want to know what God has to say."
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. -- 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (KJV)