Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Common Folks Live Large For Jesus

I have had many conversations with people who think that they are not 'worthy' some how of knowing God deeply or living for Him wildly or drawing near to Him in meaningful ways.  There is a perception that has creeped into the church which believes that living strongly for Jesus is as uncommon as walking on the moon.  This should not be true, but it is.  As I read through Colossians this week for my Life Transformation Group (LTG), I ran across this verse and began to think about how common people (you and me) can draw intimately close to Christ when life is so hectic.  Here is what Colossians 2:3 has to say and what I hear Paul teach us about living in strong ways for King Jesus...


"...Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  Col. 2:3 NASB


One truth from this verse is that the in order to have access to the treasure chest of wisdom and knowledge, we must first know Christ.  One should rightfully assume that the tighter you get with Jesus, the more His treasure chest will be made aware to you.  All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in relationship with our Savior.  So how does one find what is hidden?  How does one get to know Jesus better so more treasure can be found?


Prayer
There are at least five direct references to prayer in Paul's letter to the believers in Colossae.  It is important to note that this letter was written to the '...saints in Christ who are in Colossae'.  Saints refer to any person who is a Christian, not a super holy dude or dudette who is voted on by other holy dudes.  Common Christ followers are saints.  So Paul speaks of prayer at least five times in his letter.  This is significant.  Here are the phrases surrounding the word prayer or some form of it;

  • Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you


  • Colossians 1:9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,


  • Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;


  • Colossians 4:3  praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;


  • Colossians 4:12  Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God

  • These verses on prayer range from Paul's conversation with the Father to Paul's encouragement for these people to be devoted in prayer to Paul asking for prayer for his own heart and finally he takes note of Epaphras' great love and earnest prayers for the believers in Colossae.  Prayer, or conversation with God, is vital to one knowing Jesus and therefore finding the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

  • If Paul were always praying for this city church (1:3) and was never ceasing to pray for them (1:9) how did he find time to love other churches, disciple people, plant churches and generally work hard at loving others?  I think the secret to prayer may be found in an ongoing mental conversation with God throughout the day along with concentrated times of prayer on your knees.  Many kick themselves much because they believe they should be spending more time on their knees instead of using their daily routines to afford times of thoughtful, ongoing conversation with God.  If I'm right about this, anyone can learn to 'pray without ceasing'.   

    For more insight on prayer, check out Malachi 3:16.


    Loving Others
    Paul never met the people of Colossae.  He never visited there and they never saw his face (Col. 2:1) yet he loved them deeply.  Paul was greatly concerned for believers and churches around the world.  Here are some phrases and ideas out of this letter that speak to his immense love for people and his desire for them to follow as hard after Jesus as he did;

    "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you sake..." Col 1:24
    Paul wants to "...present every man complete in Christ.  For this purpose, I labor striving, according to His power, which mightily works within me."  Col 1:29
    "For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf..." Col 2:1
    Believers should walk or live in a way that pleases God (Col 1:10, 1:23, 2:6, 2;19, 3:12-17 etc).
    Paul was concerned about family and work relationships as well (Col. 3:18-4:1).

    Pauls love for others and his desire for others to love deeply is clear through his letter to the common folks of Colossae.  I suggest you ask God to give you eyes and ears that see and hear how He may direct you to love one another deeply and live in fellowship with one another.


    Missional Focus
    Paul was of course very missional in his approach to life and ministry.  We have seen that Paul prayed much and we have also seen that Paul worked hard for the sake of believers that he gave care to.  We can also find in Colossians, Paul's encouraging and calling the Colossians to be very active in giving out faith in Jesus to the world of people they find themselves amongst;

    "...the gospel...is constantly bearing fruit and increasing..." Colossians 1:5-6

    "...praying...that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ..." Colossians 4:3

    "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."  Colossians 4:5-6

    If you didn't catch it, Paul encouraged the church in Colossae to be immersed in DNA.  The Divine Truth is found in the Prayer (Paul also teaches plenty about the truth of Christ in this letter).  Nurturing Relationships is found in the Loving Others and Apostolic Mission is found in the Missional Focus that Paul had and encouraged those in Colossae to have.

    It is refreshing to remember that Paul was instructing common believers - those who were barely getting by and those who were better off - to be in much prayer throughout the day, to love others and work hard to maintain the faith of Christ along with always being ready to share the wonderful truth and story of Jesus Christ with those who are not yet following hard after Jesus.


    Summary
    The truth is that living for Jesus does take a focus, but doesn't take a monastic disruption of ones life.  Living for Jesus and drawing near to Him is mingled with times of focused interaction with God through prayer, meditation and His Word and times of living out the rhythms of life in normal ways, controlled by the Spirit of Jesus in us.  


    If I'm right (or close to right), the thought above sound like hidden treasure of wisdom and knowledge only found in the freedom and love of Christ.  Live large for your Savior!