What is the Church?
Sermon Notes: What is the Church?
When Paul wrote to the Colossian people, he was writing to people he had never meant before. News had come to him that this little congregation of people had been growing in their new-found faith, in their love and walk with the Risen Jesus. And what Paul does in his letter to them, is that he lays out for them the bases of what it is to live a Christian life, and to live it day after day. The heart of this letter are words found in Chapter 2:6-7, ‘Just as you received Christ as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up, strengthened in faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness’.
They are new Christian, and they’re experiencing a relationship with a God who forgives, redeems, and brings people together, and causes them to treat one another with deep love and affection.
But Paul is realistic, because he knows that there comes a moment when you have to move from this honeymoon routine in your spiritual life, and move to where, day after day you live faithfully for Jesus. And the burden of this verse is saying – now that you’ve received Christ Jesus as Lord, you must move ahead into the deeper things of what the Christian life is all about.
Paul, too, was very in-tune with the battles and struggles of the Christian life, he knew how difficult it was to live the Christian life, and he was well aware what struggles were ahead for these new converts.
When you read through the whole letter there are two things that concern Paul very much for this new group of Christian believers: In chapter 3 he shows his fear of what life would be like for them, as each day they go into the marketplace, their workplace Monday through to Saturday. He says to them, ‘put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature’, and lists a list of things that they are facing everyday in the world.
At the same time Paul is concerned about things that can happen inside the Christian community itself. Colossians 2:8, ‘See that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ’.
There is only one way that they can survive a tough world, and that is to make a choice everyday of their lives to continue to deepen their faith, getting to know Jesus more and more. ‘Continue to make the daily choice to live in him’. ‘Continue to live in Christ, rooted in Him’.
2: ‘Be built up in Him’. We have the picture of roots going down, and now we have the picture of a building that is being built up. Paul is saying, if you’re going to have a vibrant Christian life, you have to be very definite in how you allow yourself to be built up in Christ day by day.
3: Paul’s third idea: ‘I want you to be rooted in your faith, I want you to be built up in Jesus, and finally, I want you to be strengthened in the things that you have been taught’.
We need to be people who everyday are going before the Lord to acknowledge that it takes very little for us to slip backwards. Deep people are disciplined people, they take a look at their lives and they begin to press upon themselves behaviours and conduct that will re-train the soul.
Where are those places that I have to re-train myself, so that I am open to the work of God, and that my character becomes more and more Christ-like?
Someone has said this: ‘How we live today and the choices that we make will determine how we finish’.
How we finish in the Christian life is as important as how we start!
So what does Paul tell us to do?
‘Be rooted – built up – strengthened – overflowing with a thankful heart, filled with praise, that goes about spreading in the eyes and ears of the people around you, the Glory of God’.