As we began our Elder’s meeting this week (on Zoom, socially distanced), Mike Morledge directed us to Colossians 3. It’s a fitting passage for all of us to be meditating on and soaking ourselves in right now, as we think about how to live in obedience to Christ in a day when many of us are worn out and wondering about where our world is headed.
Colossians 3 gives us guidance.
1. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). What’s the proper mindset in our day (or in any day, for that matter)? A mindset that is focused on God on His purposes and His name being exalted throughout the earth.
2. “Put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Before you address the injustice in our world (which is a gospel priority), be sure your are committed to addressing the unrighteousness in your own life.
3. “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). If you haven’t experienced anger in the past few weeks, you’re not paying attention. And there is such a thing as righteous, godly anger. But between what you see on cable news channels and what you read on Twitter, there’s a lot more self-righteous anger being expressed than righteous anger. Anger is powerful and destructive. Be angry, but do not sin. And guard your tongue (and your keyboard). God takes our words seriously. We should too.
4. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12–14). Ask yourself whether your life has been characterized more by anger or compassion in recent days. Slander or kindness? Hostility or humility. The reality of injustice or unrighteousness in our world – no matter how we see it being expressed – does not give any of us license to not love our neighbor as ourselves. Your Facebook or Instagram post may earn you the approval of one side or another in our cultural divide. The bigger question is, is it approved unto God?
5. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). If your soul has been troubled and if you have been anxious or riled up in recent days, that’s understandable. The Psalms give us many examples of how to bring our anxious hearts before our great God, and how to pursue the peace He has promised. It may not come easy. You may have to fight for it. But as you pour out your soul in prayer and supplication before God, there is a peace that passes understanding that is available to you.
And we should not miss the simple imperative statement the Bible makes here. “Be thankful.” As we reflect on the many blessings we have in our lives, and as we respond regularly with gratitude to God, our hearts are quieted. “Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed, finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.”
5. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:16–17). Don’t forget to anchor your soul in God’s word. Let it dwell in you richly. Memorize verses so you can reflect and meditate on them regularly.
At the end of it all, worship God. Life in a fallen, broken world is hard. But “be of good cheer,” Jesus, said. “I have overcome the world.” As we work and pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, we can declare to all around us that even in these moments, God is in control. The gates of hell cannot prevail against Him.
“And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear for God has willed His truth to triumph through us.“
It’s helpful for me to remember that the book of Colossians was written at a time in history that was a darker, more diabolical day than our own. Governing authorities in Paul’s day were even more corrupt and evil than the people in power in our world today. It’s in the midst of that culture that the Apostle Paul penned these words.
Here’s a link to Colossians 3. Take five minutes and read the chapter, slowly and prayerfully. Maybe a couple of times today. And tomorrow. And the next day. Until the words in the chapter begin to transform how you think, how you feel, how you speak, and how you live.
During our Elders meeting last night, we went from top to bottom through the Courtyard Directory and prayed for everyone who’s listed there. Which brings to mind two things.
First, if you think of Redeemer as your church home, and you’d like to add yourself to the on line church directory, contact Pastor Matt (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cathy Crowell (email@example.com) and they’ll help you get your info loaded in.
Second, why not open up the Courtyard app on your smart phone or visit the website on your computer and take a few minutes to pray for people you know. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen someone, reach out and see how they’re doing. While we continue to function with limitations on how we can gather, let’s find ways to proactively stay connected with each other.
The last several months have put an extra, added burden on the members of our tech team – the people who run the sound board on Sundays, who operate the cameras for our live steam and who run our presentation software for our projectors. When you see those folks, remember to thank them for their work.
Technology or Computers Interest/Aptitude?
If you have any interest or aptitude with technology or computers and you’d be willing to help out, we could use a few extra folks in the rotation, especially during the summer months. We’ll train you (you probably need to be pretty comfortable with a computer as a starting point). If that sounds like a way you might be willing to serve, contact Pastor Matt and let him know (once again, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our third Confronting Christianity book study get together will happen this Monday night at 7:00. We’ll be looking at chapters 5 and 6 this week – “Doesn’t Religion Cause Violence?” and “How Can You Take The Bible Literally?”
You can join us live or on line (on the Redeemer website, on Facebook or on YouTube).
We’ll operate this Sunday as we’ve been operating. Have the kids around the screen at 9:40 am to meet with Mrs. Jen as she takes them through their Gospel Zone lesson. It’ll last about 10 minutes. We’ll start the service on line at 10, as usual.
And this week, instead of jumping back into our study John’s gospel, I want us to look at two passages of scripture that define for us the kind of impact we should be having on the lives of others as citizens of a different Kingdom.
See you (in person or on line) Sunday!
Soli Deo Gloria!