Summary: There are plenty of comparisons in our world, but what we is true of us as believers is beyond comparison! Let’s be encouraged by what we have in Christ

July 20, 2003

"What’s Below the Surface?" Colossians 2:6-15 Pastor Jon MacKinney


This morning it’s my purpose to encourage you. I have to begin, therefore, with recognizing those things that can discourage us, ’cause there are plenty. As believers, we live in a world of constant comparisons, don’t we? We live in a world where there is always someone who is smarter than us, faster than us, more talented than us, on the fast track while we are on the medium, or maybe the slow, track. Our whole society is based on comparison, even comparison to ourselves. It seems like every day, doesn’t it, some company is coming out with their earnings report which makes the stock market go haywire and it’s a comparative earnings report to last year. "Last year at this time we made x amount of dollars. This year we’ve made this many dollars." So, it’s either up or down. And if it’s down, it’s bad and if it’s up, it’s good. And it’s always comparison. Or, if you are like me, a fan of baseball, there’s this constant statistic. Is there any sport more fixated on statistics than baseball? This guy with the lights on in a night game on an artificial turf, playing against a left-handed pitcher, with Barry Bonds in left field, always gets a hit to the left hand side – three out of four times. It’s always comparative. "Last year this guy was batting .267. This year he’s batting .295." But next month he’s going to be batting .102. So, there’s this constant, constant comparison.

Don’t you wonder, those of us (and I count myself and I think most of you count yourselves in this category) the ’normal’ people? How many of you think you’re pretty normal? How many of you think you’re abnormal? Lots of hands up for abnormal. All on this side, too, it’s an interesting fact. It must be the abnormal side of the church. When I say ’normal’, talking about those people who are (well, you wouldn’t want to call them average), but you know you’re not exceptional. Maybe you’re exceptional in one particular thing, but you were the kid at school who got Bs. You worked hard, but you got Bs or maybe Cs. You were the kid that when you played baseball you were okay, but you didn’t get any college scholarships. You were too small or too slow or too something or not enough. But, sometimes those of us who are just normal people, who are not exceptional, think that we must be missing out on something huge. And, as Christians, we think sometimes that if we are not winning the world, we’re not on television, or we’re not the head of some large Christian organization, there must be something wrong with us. Perhaps we think we should go to some weekend experience that guarantees to change our lives. Have you seen those? "This weekend will change your life forever, transform you." I’m not so sure that a weekend has that kind of power.

I’ve been thinking the last couple of weeks about how many millions of believers have lived their lives in complete obscurity. Nobody knows them. Nobody knows their name. They’ve lived quiet, Christian lives, completely out of the limelight. And I’ve asked myself, "Is it possible for ???? people to get passing marks in the Christian life or ????? the Apostle Paul and Billy Graham and all the rest of us are just, like, losers?" Well, it’s interesting that the Apostle Paul didn’t think so. He’s writing to normal people. And he has some very encouraging words. He’s writing to the believers in Colossi and apparently these believers were under some kind of attack from false teachers who were saying, "I’ve got something better for you than Jesus alone and if you will buy into what I’m doing, you’ll be some kind of a superstar. It’s Jesus plus what I’ve got to give to you." And, so the Apostle Paul has some very encouraging words for us.

He first defines what is this thing called the Christian life? What does it look like? Secondly, taking a look at what the Christian mind will look like as part of that Christian life. And then where a Christian gets his power. Now, I’m not preaching from the entire passage that’s been read for us because as I worked on this passage, there was just so much in it that I couldn’t fit it into the time that I’ve got, so I’m going to do verses 13-15 next week, after the children have done their presentation, as long as there time, and I think there will be some.

Let’s look first at this idea of the Christian life. What is the true Christian life? Do you have to be the Apostle Paul? Do you have to be Billy Graham? Do you have to be Billy Sunday or D.L. Moody or the president of a Christian college or some missionary who leads thousands and thousands of people to Christ to be a Christian? Let’s look at what Paul says here in verse 6. He says, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him." The first step in the Christian life, the true Christian life, is not what you do in terms of your works, doing good works, being kind to your neighbor, not running over the neighbor’s cat with your car – it is this: accepting the truth about Jesus Christ. The people to whom Paul is writing had accepted that truth. He says, "Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord," that is a past event that continues to have results in their lives. "Just as you have received him." But, that’s a starting point because he says, "Continue to live in him." Continue to live in Him. That is one of the few verbs in this passage that is imperative, a command. Paul’s saying, "You received Christ at some point. Okay, that’s good. Now continue to live…" He doesn’t say as a good church-going person. He says continue to live in Him. There’s something very specific going on in there.

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