Summary: God’s perspective compels us to think now and then in time and here and there in space.
Title: Thinking Now and Then… Here and There
Text: Colossians 3:1-4 (3:1-15)
Thesis: God’s perspective compels us to think now and then in time and here and there in space.
Series Title: How to Treat People at Home and at Church… Walking Hand-in-Hand When We Don’t See Eye-to-Eye.
Over a hundred years ago investigative journalism reporting was responsible for exposing the underbelly of American politics, business and industry. The reporting was such that our government responded by enacting laws like the Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act. Child Labor laws were adopted. Policies for the conservation of natural resources and protection of public lands were adopted. Workmen’s Compensation laws were enacted. Labor laws for women were adopted and so on…
President Theodore Roosevelt had been on the side of the investigative reporters. He had personally benefited from their work and was able work with Congress to accomplish a number of important reforms. But then Cosmopolitan began a series of articles entitled The Treason of the Senate, it was too much for the President. So he gave a speech condemning the investigative journalists as “muckrakers.”
Muck is a term that originally described soft, moist, farmyard manure. It would also include anything slimy or filthy dirty or gunky. People who did mucking used a muck rake to clear out the filth. So those who set about searching out and publicly exposing prominent individuals in politics, the financial business or industry, i.e., “muck-a-mucks,” were called muckrakers.
In his famous speech President Roosevelt likened investigative reporters to the muckraker in Pilgrim’s Progress “who could look no way but downward with the muck-rake in his hands; who would neither look up nor regarded the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth on the floor.”
Bunyan summarized the tragedy: “There stood One over his head with a celestial crown in His hand, and proffered him (offered to trade him) that crown for his muck rake; but the man never looked up…”
I think the image of the muckraker who could look no way but downward and continued his mucking oblivious to the celestial crown being offered him is not unlike Christians today who can look no way but downward.
The text today is a call to those of us who look no way but downward, continuing our mucking in the muck of this world. As Christians we are challenged to lift our sights to envision the reality of what it means to be in Christ.
The first thing we need to do is:
I. Lift Our Eyes to See Our New Identity
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in honor at God’s right hand. Colossians 3:1
A. [First] See who you are in Christ.
The imagery of baptism by immersion is a powerful example of our identity with Christ. When we were joined with Christ in baptism, we joined him in his death. For we died and were buried with him in baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. Romans 6:1-5
Our identity is wrapped up in and around Christ.
• When Jesus died, we died! We were spiritually dead in our sins…
• When Jesus rose, we rose! We are now spiritually alive in Christ.
In Ephesians 2 we read of how before becoming followers of Christ, we were dead in our sins. We used to live in sin like the rest of the world… but God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much that even though we were dead in sin, he gave us new life when he raised Christ from the dead. And now we are his workmanship or his masterpieces or his restoration projects with a glorious hope.
I sometimes dream about buying a castle. I was kind of interested in the Saudi prince’s ranch home in Aspen but the 49 million dollar thing kind of put me off. I did see an interesting ad for a starter castle in England described as having handcrafted masonry, lots of bedrooms. Priced to move. Needs plumbing.
I also read an ad from the State of Saxony in eastern Germany. They have a dozen castles for sale and each is priced at like one U.S. dollar. However, these are historic structures that are in advanced stages of disrepair so buyers must restore them to their original grandeur which could run from $7 million to $60 million per castle.
Perhaps we might think of ourselves as fixer-upper people… once we were in advanced stages of disrepair but now we are being restored to a state of grandeur.