Summary: Learning to live the Christian Life.
by: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
During World War 2 a Christian young man was drafted off a farm in South Georgia and sent into the army, and he took his Christian faith with him….
…which meant that he continued to practice things like reading his Bible and kneeling by his bed to pray at night.
This infuriated the young man’s sergeant, who began to harass him at every turn…trying to make him over into his image of hostility.
Yet at no point did the young Christian resort to returning evil for evil.
He endured all the abuse without a word of complaint and again and again went out of his way to do nice things for the sergeant.
Late one Saturday night the sergeant came through the barracks drunk and exploded when he saw this young man kneeling in prayer by his bunk.
He started to make fun of him loudly before the others who were there and tried everything he could to distract the boy.
When at last nothing else had succeeded, the sergeant took off one of his muddy, heavy boots and threw it at the boy from clear across the room.
It hit him in the back of the head and so stunned him that he fell to the floor, but in a moment he regained his composure and without a word—began to pray again.
Even more upset, the sergeant took off the other boot and threw it and it too hit the lad in the head, but he didn’t retaliate.
In complete disgust the sergeant reeled off a string of oaths and stumbled into his own quarters and went to bed.
The next morning when the sergeant awoke and began to rub his eyes and shake off his hangover, the first thing he saw were his boots, cleaned and polished, sitting neatly under his bunk.
This was more than he could take.
With tears streaming down his face he walked into the barracks and found the young man and said, “What is it with you?
I have done everything in my power to break you down and make you over in my image, but instead you have broken me.
What do you know that I don’t know?
What is the secret of your incredible power?
I want to know!”
Brothers and sisters, in our Epistle Lesson for this morning the Apostle Paul addresses the Colossian Church:
“just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith…”
And this is what the Word of God is telling the church at Parkview this morning as well.
Because the world will do everything in its power to break us down and make us over into its image…
…but, instead, we are to break the world, causing people to ask us:
“What do you know that I don’t know?”
“What is the secret to your incredible power?”
“I want to know!”
And the only secret power that we possess is the power of Christ living in us!
…but then, this is all we need…all anyone needs!!!
In the chapter before this one in Colossians Paul writes: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”
The key here is the word “continue”.
Paul is speaking to people like us; our brothers and sisters in Christ…
…people who have already accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
And he is telling them and us to continue the great work that was started in us…
…Continue to live in Christ—and do not allow anything or anyone to get in the way of the Great Journey upon which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus!
Become like a tree that continues to grow deeper and deeper roots in Christ.
Allow Christ to be your ground, your soil, your foundation.
Find your nourishment in Christ.
Draw your strength from Christ.
And the longer you continue to do this, the deeper your roots will grow, and the stronger you will be in Christ—to have the strength to stand up against the winds of the world, the storms, the strong gusts of evil.
They will not break you.
As a matter of fact, you, through Christ will become a wind breaker, or an evil breaker…
…overcoming “evil with good.”
The Christian life is an on-going, life-long-journey of gracious living.
Those who live in Christ have been forgiven, and therefore are to be forgiving people… “overflowing with thankfulness.”