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Summary: Letting Christians look in the mirror to examine their faithfulness & educating Christians what it takes to be more faithful

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Is Jesus Making a Difference in Your Life?

Sunday AM – Lynn Haven – 01/20/08

FOCUS:

• Spiritual Authenticity

• Spiritual Litmus Test

FUNCTION:

• Letting Christians look in the mirror to examine their faithfulness

• Educating Christians what it takes to be more faithful

Credit to Jeffery Anselmi for his help.

Sizable portions of this manuscript were borrowed from his outline:

http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=90953

A. Pleasantries

B. If there is one thing in our culture that is despised more than almost any other quality, it is hypocrisy, isn’t it?

1. Folks can’t stand it, can they?

a. I don’t know how often you’ve had a conversation with an unbeliever, and they say that what turns them off about religion or church is, “They’re just a bunch of hypocrites.”

b. Well, that’s partly an excuse, right?

1) That person is trying to provide an ethical reason for their own selfishness, right? And THAT’S a little hypocritical in and of itself.

2) And, also, when you think about it, where better for a hypocrite to be than in the church? At least they’re coming to the spiritual hospital to get better!

c. So that’s partly a hollow excuse, but it’s partly true, too, isn’t it?

2. There are many studies & surveys that have been conducted about Christian behavior vs. the behavior of unbelievers that are startling in their findings.

a. The Barna Research Group released the findings of a survey that said that “Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.”

1) And among the groups of believers he looked at – non-denominational (THAT’S US), Baptist, Mormons, Catholic, Lutheran – the group with the highest divorce rate were the more fundamentalist non-denominational folks like us!

2) How startling is that?

b. A recent study in 2006 concluded that believers have just as many abortions as unbelievers

c. And there are many more studies just like this, showing that when the going gets tough & it gets down to one’s behavior, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between a contemporary believer & an unbeliever.

3. So what makes us, who are here today, any different?

a. How can we know, would we know, if Jesus is making any difference in our life today?

b. Paul appears to have a litmus test, of sorts…

1) He speaks about it in 1 Corinthians 13

2) He speaks about it in 1 Thessalonians 1

c. And he also speaks about it here in Colossians 1.

READ COLOSSIANS 1:1-6

C. Paul is writing this letter to a church that is struggling with some false teachings that were prevalent at the time.

1. So Paul was writing this letter, in part, to encourage the readers not to go back to their former way of life

2. Paul wanted to direct the people’s attention to Jesus

3. So, looking at this text, we can ask ourselves a series of questions to determine if Jesus IS or IS NOT making a difference in our life…

I. Is JESUS the CENTER of your FAITH?

A. Paul says in verse 4, “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.”

1. That’s a pretty impressive statement.

a. The faith of the Church at Colossae is so genuine that Paul heard about it in reports as he was in prison.

b. That’s an impressive report.

2. Notice, also, that their faith is in Jesus – HE is the center & basis of their faith.

a. Paul probably received this report from a fellow believer – but don’t you wonder what people said about this church as they lived in Colossae?

1) What were they known for?

2) What did people say when they spoke about this church?

b. It likely had something to do with their outward zeal, which was a result of their inward faith.

B. I wonder what people say about the Lynn Haven Church of Christ when the subject comes up?

1. What are we known for?

a. Now I’m not talking about OUR reputation as a corporate body, “the Churches of Christ,” in the 21st century

1) I’m not talking about how people talk about our non-instrumental worship

2) Or what people think about how we take the Lord’s Supper every week

3) I’m asking something else…

b. In your place of work… in your neighborhood… with your unbelieving friends, what are YOU known for?

1) Are you known for being that Bible pusher or Bible thumper?

2) Are you known for being that stickler for the rules?

3) Is your reputation tied more toward your faith, or is it more about your religiosity?

c. If Jesus is making a difference in our lives, wouldn’t we probably be known for our faith IN Jesus?

C. Paul talks about their “faith IN Christ Jesus” as if Jesus is the most central element of their faith

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