Summary: We are God’s chosen and should live to the highest standards.
Scripture: Colossians 3: 12-17
Sermon Title: The Day After Christmas
Theme: We are God’s chosen and should live to the highest standards. What is it that we are doing in Jesus’ name?
How many of us got up and opened presents on Christmas day? How many ate a good meal? How many thought about what they were going to do with all the new stuff they got? How about the day after Christmas? What did you do the day after Christmas?
Put things away – Save things you got but didn’t like to regift – or return to the store? Were you already thinking of what to get Aunt Suzy next year?
WOW! Aren’t we so very blessed? But do we let the pull of materialism or worldly things rule our very lives? If the empty shelves and deep discounts at the stores on the day after Christmas say anything about us, they shout that materialism has become a vice in all of our lives!
The church at Colossae was having similar problems. They were listening to teachers who were world centered (or I guess you might call them materialistic today). They had rules and regulations of every kind. Taboos, prohibitions – all that were focused on changing humankind. Don’t handle this or that, don’t taste these drinks or foods, don’t touch thus or so. You must observe this day or that day, or don’t stand that way when the moon is full, or be sure and light a candle for the god of the earth if you wanted a good harvest this year.
You see, there were so many religions floating around during that time that folks quite frankly had a hard time separating them. Especially the Jewish Christians – should they be circumcised if one becomes a Christian? Can Christians eat pork? Should Christians pray to the gods of the Greeks or Romans? Other Christian converts had grown up believing that to catch fish one must pray or make offerings to Poseidon. To catch love, one must be loyal to Venus. Many taught that the angels must be worshipped.
Now that they were followers of Jesus, they wondered if they should keep on doing the same things that they’d always done. After all, weren’t those things important too? The philosophers and teachers in town told them yes – by all means keep doing those things. One must keep themselves in the proper relation to these other spirits around them as well as worshipping their religious leader, Jesus the Christ.
Paul tells the Christians at Colossae that Christ is over all the cosmos, over all the world, over all – that means all of the angels, the gods, the festivals, food, drink, everything and everyone. HE ALONE IS LORD! And that as people in Christ, they have died to all the things of the world.
In 2: 20 he asks, “Why (then) do you live as if you still belonged to the world?” What he means is, “Knowing that you died with Christ, why do you allow others to impose upon you regulations which are not relevant to the life of the redeemed?” (Intepreter’s Bible, Vol. 11, 1955)
What is relevant to the life of the redeemed is that they are God’s chosen. They are holy, they are beloved. And as God’s chosen they are to act differently than the pagan worshippers. They are to have unfailing kindness toward their neighbors. They are to exhibit gentleness to all. Forgiving others just as God has forgiven them. Loving others with the peace of Christ which rules in their hearts. Conducting themselves not only with love for all but also with thankfulness in all things and doing everything in the name of Christ Jesus.
You see, Christ changes people. We are unable to do these things without Christ in our lives.
How can we love our Hispanic neighbor whom we don’t have anything in common with when we can’t even love our brother-in-law or our cousin because of something that was said 25 years ago.
How can we forgive one another if we are unable to accept the forgiveness that Christ offers each of us? Instead we carry around guilt and shame when Jesus has forgiven us and forgotten our misdeeds.
How can we exhibit compassion, kindness, meekness, humility, or patience when the world tells us to take what we want because we deserve it? The world says its not fair when we don’t have what our neighbor has. The world says that humility is a sign of weakness. The world promotes that impatience gets you further than being patient and waiting.
As Christians WE ARE DEAD TO THE WORLD! Then why do we go around living as if we belong to it?
How we act isn’t going to change us. Surrendering totally to God with all of our lives will. Accepting Jesus Christ into our hearts is the only thing that will change us. Whether or not we buy gifts at Christmas isn’t going to make us Christlike. But living and sharing unconditional love given to us by the Christ child all year long will.