Summary: Our relationship with God begins with forgiveness; but forgiveness is at the heart of relationships with fellow Christians. Forgiveness is not a commodity that we receive. It impacts our life to the degree that we want to share what we've received.
WAC2BL: Forgiven & Forgiving
Scripture Text: Colossians 3.12-14
I’ve been thinking-about some of the most-highly-rated television shows over the past 30 years: Star Trek, M*A*S*H*, Cheers, Seinfeld, Lost. Of some-of these-shows, I’ve been an avid-fan ~ and watched most of the episodes. Others, I’ve watched a-few, here-and-there.
But, despite what I think about these shows, there’s little-argument that these are some-of the most popular shows in the past three-decades. I thought about the settings-and-back-drops for each-one: For Star Trek, the setting was space ~ the final-frontier. For M*A*S*H*, it was South Korea during the Korean War. For Cheers, the setting was a bar in Boston. For Seinfeld ~ an apartment in Manhattan. And for Lost ~ an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
Hugely different settings. But they all have something in common. And that-common-element is what draws people to watch these shows. It has nothing-to-do with the setting, …and it has everything-to-do-with the relationships between characters!
Relationships are a significant-part of every person’s life. Boys-and-girls, teen-agers, men-and-women seek-out-relationships. People want folks in their lives who care-about-them; …people that are going to stick-it-out, come-what-may; …companions that are committed to the relationship.
This-desire-for-relationships is a universal-human-desire; …it-is-what-it-is because God designed us to be connected to-each-other ~ …significant, …lasting, …meaningful relationships with people. Incidentally… this is what stands behind the Second Great Commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus didn’t give that command as an arbitrary, …random-thing that He pulled-out-of-the-air because He thought it’d be a good-idea. No! He gave us that command because He knew that this-is-what-we’re-created-for! Not-only are we created to enjoy a loving, trusting relationship with God; …but we’re also created to enjoy peaceful, loving relationships with people.
That’s why almost the entirety of the Bible contains stories and laws, commands and descriptions relating-to human-relationships. And it’s-also-why the WAC2BL question is so-important: What’s a Church to Be Like? If it’s about pews-and-steeples, …if it’s about buses or billboard advertisements, …if it’s about productions and programs ~ …we’re missin’ the point! If it’s about professionalism and polished performances, …if it’s about organization and image, …if it’s about entertainment or about busy-ness ~ …we’re missin’ the point!
What’s a Church to Be Like? However we answer that-question, …it’s gotta-be-about relationships ~ …first-of-all, our relationship to God; …and secondly, our relationships to-one-another.
Last-week, we listened as God spoke to us through Peter’s letter ~ …reminding us that we are God’s redeemed-children, …and as-such, we’re to live-out-our-redemption by loving-one-another sincerely, deeply.
This week, we turn our attention to what God would-say-to-us through the letter to the Colossian-Church. And-just-like last-week, …we find a great-spiritual-truth standing-at-the-heart of a pastoral-command-of-God. The great-theological-truth, at the heart-of-this-passage is this: You are chosen by God! Chosen. Picked. Selected.
Do you remember standing on the playground while your classmates chose-up-sides? ~ Nobody wants-to-be the last-one-picked! If you’re the last-one, you feel-as-though you weren’t-really-chosen, at-all. We don’t want to be an after-thought. We don’t wanna be left-out, …left-overs, …left-behind We don’t want to be on the outside lookin’ in.
But, Scripture tells-us-that, the deep-longing to be included, …to be chosen, …to be wanted ~ …Scripture tells us that the One - who matters-most - has chosen you-and-me! Who-cares whether the “in-crowd” at-school thinks you’re cool!?! Who-cares whether the folks-at-the-office include you in their little-chat-sessions!?! Who-cares whether your neighbors think you’re the odd-ball on the block!?!
Now, I know that we really-do-care… You care when you’re not included, …you care when others treat you disrespectfully, …I care when I’m ignored, …overlooked, …put-down; But, I hope you see that deep-desire, …that impulse to-want to-be-wanted, …that gut-wrenching-fear of being-left-out ~ …all-of-it is a sign that God created us to be in relationship with-Him, and with-one-another! And-because-He-created-us that-way, …we should look to meet that-need in ways that He says are right-and-good! What’s a Church to Be Like ~ This is an attempt to explain how God wants us to build and guide our relationships with one-another so-that our desires-for-fellowship are met in God-honoring-ways!
Let’s get back to what God is saying to us through the third-chapter of Colossians.
This paragraph begins with : “[A]s God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…”
There’s a great-theological-truth here: We are chosen by God! We are loved by Him and He has selected us, …set us apart, …called us out of the empty-way-of-life: Together we are His people! But, what are we to do with this awesome-reality? ~
We’re told specific virtues that we are to ‘clothe’ ourselves with ~ …and these are all intensely-relational-virtues. In-other-words, …these all have-to-do-with how-we-relate to one-another… …how we treat one-another, …what kinds of attitudes we have, …how we respond to situations, circumstances, and-the-people that God puts in-our-lives, …these-virtues tell-a-story about what’s-in-our-hearts for-one-another!
But we’re given a list of five virtues to govern our connections with each-other: “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”