Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: At the end of a year, we can choose to let go of things that have weighed us down in the previous year. We can lose some of the baggage that we carry around and choose to replace it with the love of Christ.

How many times have you stood forsaken at the baggage carousel, watching the luggage track spit out piece after piece of luggage, but never yours? Why is it, when all chance of my suitcase ever showing up is gone, I feel compelled to stand there and watch the few remaining orphan bags circling aimlessly, as if believing that my stuff is going to suddenly materialize before my eyes if I stare hard enough? But it doesn't.

It's happened again. The airlines has lost your luggage. The good news is that eventually they almost always find your bag and attempt to send it to you. Despite all my traveling, I've never really lost my luggage. The bad news is that lost luggage has an uncanny sense of timing, managing to show up either just as you are about to head for the airport for your flight home, or worse yet, showing up about 10 minutes after you've left for a new destination. Some pieces of luggage have been known to follow frequent fliers around for weeks before finally ending up back in their owners' possession.

Losing your luggage can be one of life's most annoying, discombobulating, fuzzy-toothed inconveniences. Savvy travelers have learned never to check through crucial papers, medications needed daily, or all of their socks and underwear. It's just too risky.

But, sometime, in the days following Christmas, we should all make a conscious, exerted effort to "lose our luggage."

Most of us are far more bogged down with baggage than we may even realize. Parade magazine in their annual "The Best and Worst" carried a story several years ago about a survey conducted among vice presidents and personnel directors of the nations 100 largest corporations. They were asked to relate their most unusual experiences interviewing prospective employees during the last year. Their year-old report included:

A job interviewee who challenged the interviewer to arm wrestle.

A balding candidate who excused himself and then returned wearing a full hairpiece.

A candidate who wore headphones to the interview and, when asked to remove them, explained that she could listen to the interviewer and the music at the same time.

An applicant who interrupted the questioning to phone her therapist for advice.

A candidate who dozed off during the interview.

A candidate who muttered, "Would it be a problem if I'm angry most of the time?"

Now there's some folks carrying around some real baggage they would be better off losing.

How about you? How many extra pounds of grudges are you packing around? How many handbags of animosity? How many flightbags of resentment? How many rolling bags packed with revenge?

Many of us feel compelled to make New Year's resolutions that we optimistically carry with us into the new year. But few of us stop and consider the load we already have packed and ready to go. The worst we can do is to take these bags bursting with old grudges, unforgiven acts or merciless attitudes with us into the new year.

Let's lose that luggage.

Besides, if one of your "resolutions" is the ever-popular commitment to lose weight, what better way to shed a few of the most unsightly of bumps and bulges any of us can carry around?

I believe our text for today will enable us to understand something about how we can divest ourselves of some of this unsightly, cumbersome baggage that is killing us spiritually.

READ Colossians 3:12-17

Paul's letter to the Colossians is generally understood to have been in response to some doctrinal/behavioral errors that were beginning to plague that community. While nowhere in Colossians does Paul specifically define the nature of these errors, internal evidence from this letter (2:8, 9, 18, 23) suggests there may have been both a tendency toward rigorous, ascetic ritualism and

a rising attraction to a cult of angels or spirits. Paul's warnings and advice also seem to indicate that while some of these Colossian Christians were pushing a legalistic approach to religion, others abandoned that narrow track and gave themselves over to licentiousness ... promoting immorality (2:23).

Paul addresses particular practices and tendencies throughout chapter 2, leaving him to emphasize in chapter 3 the true Christian alternative that awaited those who had genuinely been "raised with Christ." This text demonstrates how all facets of human behaviors and attitudes have been transformed through the Christians' "death" and subsequent "rebirth" in Christ. For Paul, we are

[genuinely changed], [truly transformed creatures] by virtue of participating in Christ's death and being raised into this "new" life as Christians. The fact that members of the Colossians' community, like all Christian communities, still needed to be guided back on the track of right doctrine and behavior demonstrates the constant tension in which the reborn Christian lives. While Paul asserts that the Colossian Christians are completely "new" once they are "with Christ," they are also still under construction. In this in-between "not yet" age, Christians are not completed projects.

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