Summary: This sermon examines the keys to being faithful and doing service "for" the Lord and His church.
On March 6, 1836 a famous battle occurred in San Antonio, Texas at a place called the Alamo. This battle was a turning point in the battle for Texas. A group of approximately 200 soldiers, farmers, and frontiersmen fought a valiant battle against an over-whelming Mexican army of approximately 3,000 soldiers lead by Santa Ana. After the collapse of the Alamo General Sam Houston lead an American/Texas force that defeated the surging Mexican army. Sam Houston’s troops rallied around the cry “Remember the Alamo.” They were challenged to fight “for” the people who died at the Alamo.
A similar thing happened in the football world. In 1920 there was a football player who played for Notre Dame by the name of George Gipp. He was called the “Gipper.” George Gipp died while playing football for Notre Dame. On his death bed the “Gipper” told his coach that at some point, when the team was a major underdog, for him to challenge the team to “win one for the gipper.” In 1928 Notre Dame faced a huge challenge in playing army. They were a major underdog. Knute Rockne, the Notre Dame coach, challenged the Notre Dame team to win “one for the Gipper.” The Notre Dame football team was inspired and challenged to win one “for” the “Gipper.”
I have just finished reading a book about the American Revolution. I was amazed at the sacrifice that many of the American patriots had to make in fighting for freedom. They were under-clothed. Some of them wore rags for shoes. Many of them suffered severe frost bite and other cold related problems because of their commitment to the American cause. They did it for freedom.
Great causes stimulate great performances. Great causes stimulate great effort. Great causes stimulate great sacrifice. I want to show you a man who made a great effort “for” Jesus Christ and His church. He was faithful to the cause. That is the focus of our month, remaining faithful. Last week we talked about remaining faithful to God. Today I want to talk about remaining faithful in our service through the church. For a text I want to look at Col. 1:24-2:5. Take special note of three verses.
In 1:24 Paul says “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.” Paul uses the phrase “for” twice in this verse. He refers to doing things “for” the believers and “for” the church.
“Paul begins this passage with a daring thought. He thinks of his sufferings as completing the sufferings of Jesus Christ. Jesus died to save his Church; but the Church must be upbuilt and extended; it must be kept strong and pure and true; therefore, anyone who serves the Church by widening her borders, establishing her faith, saving her from errors, is doing the work of Christ. And if such service involves suffering and sacrifice, that affliction is filling up and sharing the very suffering of Christ. To suffer in the service of Christ is not a penalty but a privilege, for it is sharing in his work.” (William Barclay commentary on Colossians)
In 1:29 Paul refers to his labor for the church. The word could be translated struggle, labor, or toil.
In 2:1 Paul says he agonized for the church. He refers to the great “conflict” he had for the church. This is the word from which we get our word agony.
In these three verses we run across the words suffering, laboring, and agonizing. Those are not pleasant concepts. In his sermon on dealing with trials, Nashville pastor Byron Yawn points out: "For most, especially American Christians, even the remotest suggestion that there could be value in our suffering is viewed as uncaring and insensitive. We have been conditioned by our culture to believe the opposite. A collective attitude that exalts comfort and views personal happiness as the end of all things has blurred our perspective. There is no place for pain in American Christianity. "Because of this distorted perception, we rarely stop to search for the ’hand of God’ in the midst of our trouble. Seeking to understand God’s purposes in our pain is all but foreign. As a result, embracing pain’s role…. is usually the farthest thing from our minds. As one so aptly put it, ’Most people count it all joy when they escape trials. James said to count it all joy in the midst of trials.’
(Source: Preaching Now Vol. 1, No. 20. Tue 9/3/2002. Contributed by SermonCentral)
In these three verses you can see that Paul remained faithful in his service to the church in spite of hardship, trial, and persecution. What was the key to his spirit of steadfastness? There are two keys. You and I should follow suit.