One of the things that I don’t want you to miss, as we’re blitzing through these 4 books, is that we’re covering a lot of ground, in a very short time. Believe me when I tell you, if we were studying each of these books, and allowing them to “breathe” a little, we would take a lot more time mining the depth of what Paul is instructing us. So, by the very nature of what we’re trying to do this year, there are going to be some things left out of the sermon, that you might’ve thought we should cover or you’d like us to cover. I’ve actually had some interactions with folks in the past few weeks where they told me what they thought I should’ve said or mentioned something they wished I would’ve covered. Those things are helpful and I try to add them to these musings, but please don’t lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish with this series.
From the cutting room floor (things I didn’t have time to say or things I considered saying):
- Every line of work has its own unique pressures. If you’re in sales, you’ve got to beat the competing salesperson. If you’re in marketing, it’s all about coming up with the new slogan. If you’re in construction, you’ve got to build more or design better. Doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in, they have all have unique challenges and pressures. It’s no different for the pastorate or working in the church. It’s all about how big your church is; how many social programs you have going; how many people you’re reaching…everybody wants stats. No different than anything else. However, the pastorate and church ministry is “mandated” differently than any other profession. It’s instructed by God on what the central focus and theme should be and God has even told us what our methods are to be. The message, method, and even notice, are to be Christ-centric. That idea has been crystal clear in our last two sermons. One of the things that comes to mind when I preached this, is how difficult it is to be doggedly Christ-centered in the ministry of the church. There are hundreds of things that are literally pulling at you from all sides: counseling people; correcting sinners; hospital visits; visiting shut-ins; leadership development/deployment; every ministry under the sun (women, men, children, youth, college, singles, divorced, seniors, etc.); social justice concerns (addictions, child abuse, sex abuse, sex trafficking, abortion, euthanasia, homelessness, domestic violence, etc.); then there’s an election year coming with all of its cultural and even church demands to just saying something, anything about politics…you name it, it’s pulling at you. And to be frank, it is a very challenging thing to stay Christ-centric every Sunday, in every gathering. But here’s why the church is to remain centered on Christ beyond the obvious answer of why God tells us to: 1) staying Christ-centric helps no singular person’s agenda to take over the church…only Christ has that prerogative; 2) staying Christ-centric insures that Jesus will be proclaimed and taught in every venue of the church; 3) remaining Christ-centric promotes Christ for all of life, not just for that beginning point of salvation; 4) being Christ-centric will promote more of what God has done for us, than what we are to do or should do for Him; 5) being Christ-centric will cause us to see all of our activity/service/ministries as coming back to Christ and for Christ…not just for us or even just for the good of our world (which is a very noble cause); 6) staying Christ-centric will create a people who have the mission of Christ in their spiritual DNA. It is absolutely critical that the church remain doggedly Christ-centric. And…it’s not easy.
- I found it interesting the words that Paul used in 2:2 about how he wanted them to be “knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ…” It’s obvious that Paul put a premium on these Colossians/Laodiceans to be in unity…knit together in love. But what’s not so obvious is how that unity happens…reaching a full assurance of understanding and knowledge of Christ. In other words, if you want true unity in the church, the folks of that church need to believe/trust/understand/know, Jesus. Often we want unity at all costs, but true unity, as the NT describes, comes by knowing and understanding who Christ is and what He came to accomplish.
- Let me talk a bit here about what it means to live by Christ, for Christ, and by His power. See, I can feel someone urging me to say more about the Holy Spirit’s work in this and give credit to Him. Or I can hear someone say, ‘man, shouldn’t we move on to deeper waters.’ So, I want to correct some misunderstandings or even make clear some of my own assumptions when I speak about never moving on from Christ.
- The first thing would be, that in my mind, in order to live for Christ and by Christ, it is implied that we need the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to point us to Christ, exalt Christ, and teach us Christ. So, when I think about never moving on from Christ…it is always clear to me that I’m speaking about the need for the Holy Spirit to do this in us. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11).
- Secondly, I have always been impressed by Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, when he wrote: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” The reasons this amazes me are several, but let me show you one…this is in the 15th chapter of Paul’s longest letter to a troubled church…and at the end of all of this…he reminds them of the gospel of Christ. This isn’t an addendum to Paul, nor is it an introduction…this is the point!
- Third, as I mentioned in an earlier sermon, if we take Christ out of our Christianity, we’re a few letters short of insanity. It is impossible to live the Christian life without God’s power working in us and through us. And God’s power, in its densest form…is found in the gospel (Romans 1:16).
- Fourth, by the gospel, we’re talking about all of Christ: his divinity, his “before time began” life, his birth to Mary, his perfect obedient life, his death in our place, his resurrection, his ascension, and his exaltation as our King. So, there really is no part of human history, nor any part of our life or our spiritual birth/life that is separated from Christ. Certainly as it pertains to our new birth, Christ’s life, death and resurrection, are critical. But as to Him being our model/teacher…his life/teaching/service are all critically important…But finally on this point…as our ascended King, what He says goes for us. We’re His servants/ambassadors/representatives.
- Finally, there is so much of Christ’s work that reveals to us the way we are to do business on earth:
- We welcome others…as He’s welcomed us.
- We’re patient with others…as He’s been patient with us.
- We treat others…not just the way we want to be treated, but the way He’s treated us.
- Sometime look this one up: how our giving monetarily is motivated by Christ. Look up 2 Corinthians 8-9 (specifically 8:9).
- Much more could be said, but I think you get the point.
- Here are some great book recommendations that will help you apply Christ to your everyday life:
Pray for us:
Friends, this week, our pastors (elders) and their wives will spend from Wednesday – Sunday praying, planning, and thinking through ministry/life at CLF. From the expansion of our building, to expanding our leadership team, to walking through some challenges we’re facing, we’re desperate/needy/desirous to hear from the Lord. Would you pray for us? And listen, if there is something that you feel like is important for our pastors/wives to consider of this weekend, would you please send it to me at email@example.com? It really is a joy to serve Jesus with you.