Summary: When Christ rules our lives we will clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Once we dress this way, we can put up with each other and forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
Nov. 25, 2001
Dressing For Success
Good morning! When Maxine and I were attending seminary we were invited to several theme parties. The host would pick an era and then we would all dress the part. One such party sticks out in my memory. The party was a seventies party. Some of you remember well the decade of disco, Dallas : "Who shot J.R.?", and Dukes of Hazard. It also gave us the fashion nightmares such as bell-bottom jeans and plaid leisure suits. [Those of you that laughed probably still have outfits in your closet and you are just waiting for it to come back in style!] Maxine and I, being poor as church mice, decided to go to the Good Will Store to see if we could find some duds for the party that night. There I saw it. It was a brown leather leisure jacket. I paid 50 cents for it and threw it in the trunk of the car.
As we were getting ready to go to the party Maxine asked if a rat had died somewhere in the house. Something smelled awful...it was me! Well not me, but the jacket. It smelled absolutely horrible. It smelled like old moldy Wisconsin cheese. I told Maxine I would take it off once I made our appearance. It was a great coat! She rolled down the windows on the way there.
Once we arrived, everyone loved my outfit until they got near enough to smell me. A buddy of mine said he had a plan. He was a single seminary student so he carried cologne in his car, ( you never know), and poured Obsession cologne all over the coat. This just made it ten times worse. The group spoke and decided I was not welcome back in the party unless I took off the coat. I needed a change of clothes.
Last week, Pastor Brian taught from Col 3:1:11 and challenged us to break free from the past. In order to do this we must put off our old self and put on the new.
a. Looking up: In verse 1:4 the apostle Paul challenges us to "set our minds on things above not on earthly things."
b. Looking out: Paul then challenged the Colossians believers to look out for the sins of the old nature lurking around within you. Pastor Brian reminded us that we have "died with Christ, now we need to live it out practically."
c. Looking in: Next Paul reminds the Colossians about what happened to them at conversion. We have taken off the old self but that is not enough. That would leave us "naked" as we say in the South. We must put on the new self. Paul tells the Galatians, "You are a new creation in Christ, the old has gone and the new has come." New creations don’t wear smelly leather leisure suits! They take those old clothes off and let Jesus give them a new wardrobe!
d. Look around: Last, but not least, Paul challenges the Colossians and modern day believers as well to see others from God’s perspective. Racial, religious, cultural, or economic distinctions fade away when we realize that "Christ is all and in all."
Four How Questions
This morning will continue our study of Colossians by asking four questions:
How to belong to Christ?
How dress like Christ?
How to act like Christ?
How to live like Christ?
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved...The phrase starts with "therefore." Paul is moving from the negative warnings of the chapter to the positive virtues of putting on Christ.
How We Belong to Christ
a. Chosen: Paul calls the believers at Colosse "chosen" or "elect." The Greek term means to "select out of a number." In Deuteronomy 4:37 Israel is identified as God’s chosen nation.
Peter applies this notion to the Christian community:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God..." (I Peter 2:9) Paul chose his words carefully. Remember this is a letter written specifically to the Colossian believers who were battling the heresy of Gnosticism and false teachers. Some of the false teachers were saying you had to be Jewish, or at least go through Jewish rituals such as circumcision. Paul upsets the apple cart by calling this mostly Gentile congregation "chosen." It is not the first time He had made such a claim. In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul clearly states: "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to holy and blameless in His sight..." (Ephesians 1:4)
It is not my intent to start a firestorm of debate over the predestination issue this morning. Much smarter people than I have argued that one for centuries. I want to focus on the more practical implications of being chosen.