Summary: The participant will be inspired to embrace life in the local church and choose one life question to begin asking in their life.
Maybe it’s been a while since you have experienced the joy of throwing rocks in a lake. But if you think back you will remember how fun it is. I know my sons and I can hardly walk by a lake without stopping to throw stones in it. And being boys, it quickly escalates to seeing who can find and throw the biggest rock possible.
One of the coolest things about throwing big rocks into a lake is watching the ripples that occur. You know what I’m talking about. You throw in a small rock and these little ripples move out from the spot it landed in the water. Then you heave a huge rock and ripples cascade in a circle from the spot the rock landed. And if the water is calm you can see the ripples that seem to go all the way across the lake. For us we love watching the ripples move across the water.
Today we are in week three of a seven-week series on Colossians. We are calling it Are You In? The reason for that is because Paul opens his book by throwing this huge rock into our world, which continues to have a ripple effect to this day. The rock Paul threw was the truth and reality that every person can be In Christ. The first week we discovered that God invites everyone to be in Christ. We also discovered that there are people in our world seeking to thwart and diminish the reality of Christ in us. Last week we learned that Christ is supreme in every way and that being in Christ means we have the fullness of Christ in us.
Today we are going to talk about one of the ripples that occurred as a result of the huge rock of Christ being thrown into our world. This morning we will look at 1:24 – 2:7. As you take out your message notes you will notice that I entitled this message In What: Christ’s Network – The Church. Let me show you what I want us to discover today.
Now we know that Christ has a mission to seek and save those who are lost and the church has a mission to be the hands and feet of Christ to people…to be Christ to others. (turn chairs away from table) Now my concern is for those who like being in Christ but who are not particularly excited about His church. Who can blame us? Everyone knows that the local church is not perfect. Disagreements can be common and often resolved poorly. Music styles can vary as much as the weather. Bureaucracy can be rampant. The church always asks for money. People act one way in this building and a different way outside this building. It is not difficult to conclude that choosing a life of being in Christ without being in His church is the better way. I fear people have lost hope in the church.
Yet what Paul is telling us today is that we cannot live in this dichotomy. The reality is that the church exists only in Christ. We cannot separate being in Christ and His church. The existence and mission of the church is subsumed in Christ. To be in Christ is to be in His church and to be a church is to be in Christ. To not do what Paul says means we are not really a church.
I love the church. I believe it is the hope of the world. It is the only place for find spiritual healing; to find acceptance and to discover hope for our lives. In the passage Paul expresses his personal passion, love and work in Christ’s church. And in doing so he describes what it means for the church to be in Christ and how the church expresses Christ. Let’s read what Paul says and discover five things about living in Christ’s network; the church.
1. Moved by love, we sacrifice for others.
1:24: “what was suffered for you”
1:29: “to this end I labor, struggling with all His energy”
2:1: “I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally”
Do you hear Paul’s love for people in these phrases? Do you hear and feel his compassion? Do you hear his willingness to pay the price so that others can know and follow Christ? Paul is so moved by his love for people that he is willing to labor, struggle and even suffer so that people can come to know Christ and learn how to follow Him. His love moves him to action. And he is willing to pay the price for that action.
Verse 24 can be a little tricky. Paul is not saying that the sufferings of Christ are insufficient. I believe what he is saying is that he is now suffering and receiving the persecutions Christ would have received if still on earth. We know that Christ suffered much and Jesus told us in John 15:20, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” Paul would later write to Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Timothy 3:12. Remember, Paul is writing this letter from a Roman cell. So what Paul is saying is that when Jesus was on planet earth He suffered. And since I am His follower I will suffer as well.