Has anyone thought someone was waving at you, only to realize that it was definitely not the case? I certainly have! Let me tell y’all (friends, this word is fast becoming one of my favorites, even as a transplant from the north) all about it, since I’m sure some of you have also had a similar experience and can sympathize. Me being me, I was in a hurry running into the local Starbucks before school one morning, and thought I glimpsed one of my middle school students from aftercare waving excitedly at me from her table. I waved excitedly back, only to realize with slow dawning horror that my 'pre-coffee' brain had incorrectly recognized this student, and a) it was not my favorite student from aftercare, and b) she was definitely waving at her friend behind me. Man, I was embarrassed, and I booked it out of there as fast as I could.
Perhaps some of you have felt this way about church—we learn quickly in our culture that there are many messages to be tuned out and to swipe away from. So perhaps, if we feel that the message of the sermon isn’t geared towards us, then we hightail it out of church, or more frequently, we zone out what we don’t think is being sent our way from on high and if we don’t perceive it as being legitimately addressed to us. Or, maybe we don’t agree with the message from the gospel, and we decide it’s one of many messages that we can choose to receive or not. The truth is, ultimately, Jesus is greater than all the other messages we receive on a daily basis, and we need to slow down and listen.
For those of you trying to spread the good news, it’s easy to get discouraged. However, remember that Paul too had a difficult time trying to convince everyone that Jesus’ message was the most important. To be fair, he was up against the Roman Empire, whose famous first emperor Augustus had just successfully brought Rome and its territories into a period of peace, and was almost worshiped in some parts. Don’t even get me started on the Roman and Greek gods, who had quite the cultural following in those parts, and were not only endorsed by the governments of that time, but had become entrenched in Roman and Greek society as well as the Roman Empire’s territories culturally. However, Paul knew that Jesus was Lord, and that was all that was important. Even after being imprisoned more than once for preaching the gospel of the Lord, he continued to persevere on his mission.
In Colossians, we can hear Paul’s palpable excitement and fervent belief in the Lord, despite his previous hardships. In Colossians 1:1-10 [NLT], he excitedly urges the people of Colossae to remember that the gospel is the “…same Good News that came to you [which] is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.” He tells them he has heard about “the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you” and that he and Timothy “...have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”
So at the end of the day, we should embrace Jesus as Lord with as much confidence as we can muster, since Paul did so even in the direst of circumstances. For with that acceptance of God, He forgives us, grants us grace over our past, makes us feel wanted even when we feel isolated and are at our loneliest, allows us to keep from surrendering to our rebellion away from him, and heals over what’s been done to us.
If you missed out on this week's sermon, check it out here.