FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
7TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SUNDAY JULY 28TH 2019
TEXTS: COLOSSIANS 2: 6 – 19
THEME: THE FULLENESS OF LIFE IN CHRIST
Paul is writing to the church of Colosse in Asia Minor trying to combat errors in the church. Paul wrote the book of Colossians about 60 A.D. while in prison in Rome. This church was founded by Epaphras and other converts from Paul Missionary journey. The main problem facing them in the church was “syncretism” combining philosophies and religions with Christian truth. The church had been infiltrated by religious relativism with some believers bringing in also some paganism and secular philosophy and mix with Christian doctrines. Paul therefore confronts these false teaching and affirms the sufficiency of Christ in people’s lives.
Traditions: Worship of other deity, body circumcision. Judging people by what they eat (as you travel you discover that people enjoy some food that you would not have imagined) but we can’t judge them by that. I eat goat meat but I would not want to try frog legs.
Heresies: These were teaching that were not biblical. Some would argue one need to be physically circumcised to receive Christ in their lives. When know this is not true and is not supported by the Bible.
Christ Way: Be rooted and built in Christ, be a person of faith. We are buried to Christ through baptism and raised with him through faith. God made us alive and has forgiven us all our sins. He paid the debt that we owed Satan by his blood. He cancelled it by being nailed on the cross
Here in our country we are faced with challenges of secularism as well as great urge for materialism. What happening in our “American” culture is to mix the likes and dislikes of the everyday life and form a way of life that does not represent Christ in nature. How can we then live a life where Christ becomes all we need in our daily living?
- By receiving Christ in our lives: One, Getting rooted up in Christ. This example reminds us of a natural rule that says the deeper the roots the firm the tree. We know that even though the tree gets some food through the leaves the roots are very crucial for its survival. When we are connected or rooted in Christ, we will draw from the true source that keeps us strong and grounded. By connecting to Christ, we disconnect with the wicked and the two connection do not work together. When connected to Christ we get rooted to receive his love, forgiveness, his grace, strength to move forward. When we are rooted in Christ then we become what the Psalmist describes in Psalm chapter one. “Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But their delight is in the law of the LORD and on this law they meditate day and night. They are like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3). Two, be established in faith. As believers we grow our faith by staying the course. Faith comes as we engage with: the word of God, prayer team, bible study, being engaged in worship, reading of Christian literature, meditation and many others. When we pray and God answers our prayer, we develop more love and trust for our God. Three, be thankful and grateful. Everything we have and all we are is because God has opened blessing for us. We easily forget to be thankful for small things that happen in our lives and without them life is never the same. When you are able to up or down the stairs without help be grateful to God, when you can see, hear, smell, touch thank God. God is teaching us to operate from the source abundance instead of scarcity. Someone once told be if you break one leg or one arm be grateful because you could have broken the two legs or two arms. Teach ourselves to see the glass half-full instead half-empty.
- Keep away from wrong teachings: The world has come with new teachings that are self-centered. Paul was dealing with the people who were confronted with all kinds of teachings and philosophies and were not sure what was the true teaching of Jesus on certain issues. Like in Paul’s time we have many people out there pretending that they are working for God but they are not. When we carefully analyze their teachings, some are preaching things that are not in the bible. A church that believes or teaches that all created people are NOT equal before God they are teaching heresy. People will extend teaching that divide instead of uniting. During Paul’s time people would argue that one needed to be circumcised to become a Christian while the Bible is clear that one does not need to be circumcised to become a Christian. People would impose other requirement (food to eat, clothes to wear…) to the people so that they can meet their requirement that were not biblical. Today you might find someone saying you are not truly saved if you can’t speak in tongues. That not true because though the bible teaches speaking in tongues as part of the gifts but not everybody is given. The only way to protect ourselves from wrong teaching is to be student of the bible. Read our bible as often as we can and so that when one is misleading us, we will quickly know.
- Live like forgiven person: Jesus paid it all on the cross. We owe nothing to the devil therefore never allow our past to put us down. Be like Paul and focus on the goal ahead. We can’t live looking back. Whatever we have left behind is history. As much as history might be good it may not get us to the finish line today. The purpose of Jesus coming and dying on the cross was to redeem us from all forces of the evil. But we are not perfect and we keep on falling back but God is gracious to lift us up. But in all this we know that we are forgiven sinners while the devil is a condemned enemy with no hope of redemption. But one of the schemes that the devil uses is to remind us of our past failures. Before long we get discouraged with life. Sometimes we think or made to believe that we are failures. But Paul reminds us in the book of Philippians to look forward and focus on the goal. “Not that I have already obtained or already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me………….But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me, heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3: 12-14). As one person once said to me, “If the devil reminds me of my past remind I should remind it of its future” (eternal death with fire).
- Avoid judging others: It is very easy to judge people just by the way they look, dress speak, sometimes cars they drive, where they live, the work they do. In Jesus time what people eat was of much importance and people could be judged by that. As church our business is not to judge others but to allow them experience God in their own way. This does not mean that we can’t point people to Christ. During Paul’s time the church was going through all kinds name calling just because people were in disagreement. I think our challenge today comes from the secular world where people are judged by the color of their skin, their age, ethnicity, sometimes the part of the world they come from or which party they belong to. As Christians we can be carried by this way of thinking and miss what is important, what Christ is calling us to do. Here is what is important to remember as a Christian. One, we are children of one God. Two, we are created in God image. And when we leave this divided earth, we will go in one undivided heaven. John the author of revelation reminds us this as we read from his words. “After this I looked and there before me was great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and in front of the lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9). We are beloved children of God.