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ROOTED IN CHRIST
You Are Here!
October 8, 2017
Recently, I went up to the 422 outlets to do some shopping. I don’t often go to the outlets. And I rarely do any shopping which is probably why in 24 years you’ve never heard me tell a shopping story! But I went there to buy some perfume, not for me, but for my wonderful wife. And I not only got her favorite perfume, but I got a great deal on it. At least that’s what the “perfume guy” said. The perfume I bought was 40% off, just that day! Thank you, Jesus. Maybe I have the gift of shopping and don’t even know it!
But going to the outlets can be overwhelming for me. So whenever I go to there, the first thing I do is go right to the mall map. I don’t even know where to start. And my goal is always to get in and out as fast as I can. So I go to the map and look for that little red circle that says “You Are Here!”
Last week, Matt taught on Colossians 1:15-20, a passage about Jesus that can be overwhelming. If you weren’t here, please listen to the podcast. The point was simple. Jesus is Number One! There is no one like Jesus. There will never be another Jesus. And we wouldn’t be here or anywhere without Jesus.
Jesus is God come in the flesh. Jesus is the creator and sustainer of all things in heaven and on earth. Jesus is the head of the body, the church. Jesus is the pastor of Valley View and every church that bears his name. Jesus is the firstborn from the dead. Jesus is the great reconciler who will one day reconcile all things to himself. And the reason Jesus can do that is because he paid the ultimate price for our sin with his own blood on the cross.
That’s where we ended last week. That’s overwhelming. And if you’re like me, after a passage like that, you need a map. You wonder, “Wow! Way to go Jesus. You’re amazing! But what does that have to do with me? Where do I fit in on the map?” Well, Paul answers that question in the next few verses by saying, “You Are Here!” Paul’s going to apply the supremacy of Christ to our own personal lives.
Today we continue our series called Rooted In Christ. Please turn to Colossians 1:21 (p. 821), Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
The first thing Paul says is that once upon a time you weren’t even on the map! Remember, the Colossians were Gentiles. And God’s original plan was to work through the nation of Israel. The Gentiles, like most of us are, were off the map, worshiping other gods, acting out their evil behavior, until God “buts” in.
Look at verses 22-23, But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
I love when God buts in! You were off the map, but now you’re on the map. You are here, Paul says. You were enemies, but now you’re holy, reconciled to God by Christ’s death on the cross.
Church, Jesus deserves first place in our lives because he is the great reconciler. The word reconcile means “to change and bring into harmony.” When two people have a misunderstanding or a falling out they need to be reconciled. They need to be brought back into harmony with each other again.
I was involved in a reconciliation meeting just this last week. And after each of us shared our feelings and felt heard and understood, we ended with forgiveness and prayer and hugs. It was wonderful. And Jesus made it all possible.
Jesus loves to see relationships reconciled. He’s made it possible for you and me to be in harmony with God the Father. Jesus paid the price that our sin deserved in his physical body, which is a shot at the Gnostic heresy that said God couldn’t come in a body because flesh is evil. But Jesus did and now when we place our faith in Christ we are holy in God’s sight, free from blemish and accusation. That’s incredible!
God sees us as perfect, because Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect. We’ve been reconciled to God and one day this whole universe will be reconciled and made new. And God knows we need it after another senseless tragedy in Las Vegas this week. Have you been reconciled to God? Have you believed that Jesus’ death is enough to give you peace with God? It is. Please accept it.
How about on a horizontal level? Do you need to reconcile with any one? Do you need to regain connection and harmony with a friend, a spouse, a parent, a child, a co-worker? Jesus is the great reconciler and wants to help you do that. It’s hard, I know. It takes humility and courage, but the peace it brings is so worth it.
Paul has become a servant of Christ and a messenger of this good news. Church, God didn’t reconcile us to himself to become church goers. God put us on the map to be his servants.
I heard a pastor say recently to his church, “If you’ve been hanging around here for two years or more and haven’t started serving we can’t help you grow anymore.” Serving is that important to being a disciple of Christ. Serving is simply doing something for someone that you don’t have to do.
Let me tighten that window. If you’ve been hanging around Valley View for a year or more and haven’t started to serve in some way, we can’t help you grow any further. You need to get off the bench and on the field. Our mission is Jesus. Our vision is to make disciples. And disciples serve because Jesus served. Every ministry we have here can use more servants. Trust me.
Paul is a servant of Christ but it hasn’t come without a price and so now he gives us a glimpse of what it cost in verses 24-25, Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.
The reconciliation we enjoy with God has come at a price. Let’s never forget that. Last week, we celebrated the Lord’s Table as we do every month, so that we will never forget the cross and the price Jesus paid for our reconciliation.
But Paul and all the other apostles paid a price too. Every one of them, except the Apostle John, was martyred for their faith. Every one of them, and many since, have paid the ultimate price just for serving Jesus.
Paul says, I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions. What does that mean? Does he mean that Christ’s death on the cross was somehow lacking? That it wasn’t sufficient in some way? No. Absolutely not. There was nothing lacking in Christ’s sacrifice. When Jesus died he shouted from the cross, “Tetelestai. It is finished. Paid in full.”
No. The afflictions of Christ that Paul is filling up are the afflictions that come with serving people. I’m suffering for you, he says. I’m in prison and being beaten for the church.
When we sign up to follow Jesus and start serving others we will suffer. Serving others will cost us, maybe not our lives, but it will cost us something.
Last week, Viktor Rao spoke for a few minutes about his work in India. Viktor and his wife came to Christ out of Hinduism. And when he did his brother said, “I’m going to kill you!” He never did, thank God. In fact, his brother eventually became a follower of Jesus as well. But persecution is real in India and many other places in the world today.
In fact, more people were martyred for Christ in the 20th century than in the first 19 centuries combined. Persecution of any race, religion, or people group is wrong and must be condemned. But Christians are especially in the cross hairs. According to Christianity Today, 2016 was the worst year yet. 215 million Christians experienced high, very high, or extreme persecution.
This week, a friend from Valley View sent me a short video on the persecuted church. And research shows that Christians are the most persecuted minority in the world today. Not much of it gets reported in the western media, but it’s happening in places like India, North Korea, the Middle East, and North Africa. And before too long it may be coming to a neighborhood near you.
But we keep serving Christ and serving one another because here’s the mystery. Look at verses 26-29, the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
Do you like mysteries? Do like twists in movies? How about The Sixth Sense? Can you believe that Dr. Crowe played by Bruce Willis was dead the whole time? Who would have thought that? And how about the twist in The Empire Strikes Back? Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father! Really? Well the gospel is full of twists.
Let me give you some. The Messiah that Israel waited centuries for is not just a great human being like Moses or David, he is God himself come in the flesh. That’s a twist. No one expected that. And instead of overthrowing the Romans who dominated Israel he submits to them and allows himself to be brutalized and crucified. Really? But instead of staying dead, he rises from the grave alive, never to die again. That’s a pretty big twist no one saw coming! And instead of being a national Savior of Israel alone, he becomes a global Savior of Israel’s worst enemies. And now, instead of being way out there somewhere, he lives inside you and inside me. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
And it’s Christ living powerfully in us that keeps us serving and doing things for others we don’t have to do. We don’t serve in our own strength. We serve in Christ’s strength. Christ is the mystery that Paul and many of us have given our lives to.
And like Paul we want to see everyone, starting with ourselves, become fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. It’s Jesus who motivates us to serve. It’s Jesus who empowers us to serve. And it’s Jesus who keeps us serving even in the face of suffering.
And Paul doesn’t want his efforts to be in vain when it comes to the Christians in Colossae and the Christians at Valley View. Look at 2:1, 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. That’s us church. We’ve never met Paul personally. But he has a goal for us.
Look at verses 2-5, 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, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Remember, these believers in Colossae were under spiritual attack by those who were downsizing Jesus. They were called Gnostics and they were saying that Jesus wasn’t God come in the flesh. Jesus isn’t the only way to God. He’s only one rung on a long ladder to God. He’s not the way. He’s part of a way to God.
Sound familiar. We hear that a lot these days. And that flawed thinking can erode our commitment to Christ. The Gnostics were teaching that the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were hidden in them, not in Jesus. And Paul says, “No! Don’t be duped by fine sounding arguments. Christ alone is enough. Get to know him. In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Stand firm in your faith.” Church we need to stand firm in our faith in Jesus. We need to be encouraged in heart and united in love. Let’s not let the evil one divide us in anyway.
When I go to the outlets I need a map that says, “You Are Here!” How about you? Do you know where you are? Are you on the map? Have you accepted God’s gift of reconciliation through faith in Jesus? What he did on the cross was enough for you.
Is there anyone you need to be reconciled with? Please make it right. Jesus will help you. He loves to turn enemies into friends. I love what Abraham Lincoln once said, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” That’s reconciliation.
Are you serving Christ by serving others? Many of you are. You’re energized by Christ. I see it all the time around here. But some of you may not be. If you’re not, you may be stuck in your faith and never reach full maturity. Please get off the bench and get in the game. Do something for someone that you don’t have to do.
And finally, soak yourself in Jesus. Get to know him. Read his Word. Talk to him in prayer. Listen to his voice and follow his leading in your life. In Christ alone are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Valley View, let’s stand firm in our faith together. And now let’s stand for closing prayer.