Summary: A sermon for the New Year.
"Becoming a Genuine Human Being"
It's a fact that hurt people hurt other people.
If a wounded soul lobs a criticism grenade in your direction, try and defuse it with understanding.
A pastor shares the following: "One time I was praying during worship, a few moments before preaching.
Eyes closed, focusing on God, I felt someone slip a note into my hand.
I never saw who it was, but the note was marked: 'Personal.'
I thought to myself, 'Somebody probably wrote a nice note to encourage me before I preach.'
A warm, loving feeling settled over me as I unfolded the paper.
A moment later, I lost that loving feeling.
Evidently, the note was from a woman who had tried to see me on Friday, my day off.
She took offense at my absence and blasted me with hateful accusations.
This happened literally seconds before I was to stand up to preach.
In that moment, I had a choice.
I could internalize the offense and become demoralized and discouraged.
Or I could ask myself, 'I wonder what she's experiencing that caused her to lash out?'
I chose compassion over depression.
My heart hurt for her.
I knew that such a disproportionate reaction must indicate deep pain, so I didn't take her note personally."
Have you ever seriously tried to forgive someone who's wronged you?
Have you ever seriously tried to be compassionate and patient?
Have you ever tried to let Christ's peace, Christ's Word, Christ's name be the reality around which you order your life?
It's not easy.
It takes serious prayer and real moral effort.
But it transforms us.
It makes us more human.
And what better goal could anyone of us have for 2013?
Colossians 3:12-17 is one of the classic New Testament passages where Paul talks about sanctification, that is of the new life that the Holy Spirit works in believers.
But this work of God also involves us.
We are called to make a conscious decision to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and when we do--miracles happen in our lives and we become more and more the human beings God created us to be.
As Christians, we are aware that God has chosen to die for us and love us.
God has called us out of the darkness of this life and into the light of life in God's Son.
And so, like persons who have been handed a pair of new clothes, we are called to shed the old clothes of our lives with its moral corruption, evil desire, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander...
...and put on God's new pair of clothing with its compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossians 3: 12-17 presents to us a vivid picture of what it looks like to live as those who are clothed entirely in Christ, and what it means to be part of a community where Jesus is "all in all."
Remember in the Garden of Eden, after the Fall?
Adam and Eve hid from God because they had sinned and recognized their nakedness.
Now, as those who have died and live with Christ, we are to wear Jesus Christ as our clothing.
God, in God's grace and love, has sent us--naked, sinful, lost, broken people--His Son to die for us and become our clothing, our righteousness, our light, our healing and salvation!!!
God has not left us alone in the wilderness to die.
God has come to rescue us.
And as Paul says, "Therefore, as God's choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other.
As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other."
Notice that Paul says we are to "put on compassion, put on patience..."
"...And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity."
Or as Paul instructs us in verses 9 and 10, we are to "Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature..."
And this "sanctification," this "taking off of the old and putting on of the new" is a process.
It's a process that we, as a community of faith, are to be involved in together.
Paul says, "The peace of Christ must control your hearts--a peace into which you were called in one body.
And be thankful people."
As the Church of Jesus Christ, we do not belong just to ourselves, we belong to one another.
We are not just individuals we are a corporate entity.
And we are to love one another.
And that's not always easy.
We are, most of us, at different places along the journey.
Some of us have maybe just been saved.
Others have only put on the first layer of clothing.