September 18, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one Body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3.12-13, 16-17, 15)
Just as a means of explanation, I shifted verse fifteen which is the “core value” of this pericope of scripture (12-17) so that the “last thing we here in that reading is the first thing we will remember. What is it we are remembering? “And be thankful.” Thankful for what? Not that you are asking as if you didn’t know, it is more of a rhetorical question.
Thankful for the trust that:
- We are God’s chosen people to be holy and dearly loved. It is so much less about our race, financial designation, nationality, political ideology, denominational affiliation or even our gender that God has chosen us. It is about who God desires for us to be as a people called by His name for His purposes and our good. God sees us “as we are” in light of “as we are meant to be.” God desires us to see ourselves for who we are intended to be and not satisfied for who we have become or allowed ourselves to be defined by the world as is acceptable. Only God, through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, can transform us and redeem us and reconcile us to Himself. He chooses to “clothe us with righteousness” for our sake and for His glory. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture and His beloved.
- We are forgiven and empowered to be forgiving. And we are not talking about the “excusing” kind of forgiveness which is so popular in the world that leads to entitlement behavior and separatist thinking. We are talking about the kind of forgiving which eliminates the threat and reality of eternal death and dying. It is the kind of forgiveness that restores us to wholeness within the framework of the greatest commands: Love the Lord your God with all that you have and Love your neighbor knowing that you yourself are a neighbor. Because God has forgiven us the whole of our lives, then we are constrained to forgive others in the same manner because wholeness of self is nothing without wholeness in the community of faith. The God who loves us this much has made it possible for us to love others this much. It is by His mercy and grace to forgive us that we have the ability and opportunity to forgive and restore others in the hope of wholeness.
- We are strengthened in our witness to one another, and by extension to the world, to be better people. The goal, purpose and aim of our lives is bound in right worship. We can never forget the instruction of “where two or more are gathered in My Name, there I AM is with you.” That instruction is given in the midst of the teaching on resolving differences and healing interpersonal relationships. The use of our gifts, talents and abilities for the purpose of building up one another into the full measure and stature of Christ body with Christ as the Head of that body is critical, essential and spirit-led. These gifts, talents and abilities are God-breathed in us as much as Scripture is God-breathed for us. The directive of that and the reminder of it comes in our desire to worship the Lord with gladness in the songs of faith which lift up our eyes to heaven and stretches our arms wide to the world. Consider this as you ponder your response to the call of Christ to us for discipleship saying “Take up your cross and follow Me.” He bore His cross to lead. We must bear our cross to follow…together knowing we are not alone and nothing will separate us from the love of God except for our denial of the love of God for anyone.
- In the expressions of all three above we give thanks that we do not do it on our own volition with our own agenda. Instead, we have been given the name and authority of Jesus the Christ, God’s Son, who has made it possible for us to fulfill the call of scripture to be the “salt of the earth, the light of the world, the shepherd of flocks, the watchmen on the wall, the witness of faith and the body of Christ.” Remember, the concern of Moses when God directed him to confront Pharaoh as His emissary with the message “Let MY people go!” It was a concern for authorization. Moses had been stripped of authority in the land of Egypt and was now a castaway into the wilderness of Sin (literally). But, God redeemed him and restored him to his first identity- a child of God in the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph who walked again by faith and not merely by sight. He now walked again by the name which was above all names: Yahweh Elohim. So, we now walk as new creations with the authority under which every knee will bow and every tongue confess: Jesus the Christ of God! There is power in the name just as there is power in the blood! And that power is given to us so that we may exercise our spirit authority to exorcise the spirited anti-authority from the community of faith as it broadens its reach to draw in more to God and more away from anti-God/anti-Christ.
- Finally, we are “shalom.” We are the very “peace” of God that surpasses all understanding and is beyond all human confines used to restrict and imprison the heart, mind, body and soul of humanity. Shalom is the perfect balance of life between the extremes of right and wrong, good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness. We have been given God’s shalom as the watchword and byword of our Christian faith and as a community of faith. It is the true word of community empowerment and the benchmark by which we can determine the authenticity of that community in “word and deed.” It comes in the surrendering of ourselves to the truth of God in Jesus Christ as inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It allows us to face the world we are in without being of the world that desires to draw us in. It allows us to be against the world that is against God without destroying it and rather promotes us as transformers of culture by renewing and reteaching the truth of God best known through Jesus the Christ. It allows us to attend and contend with one another as we seek our spiritual and community of faith vitality by becoming mature disciples, sons and daughters of the Most High God.
Yes, we have much for which to be thankful! Let’s be so today and always in Jesus’ name.
Father, You have called us into a glorious reality because Your presence and essence and reality is glorious. You have given to us the ways and means of attaining that life through faith in Your Son, Jesus the Christ. We receive it now fully intentioned to promote this gospel and to broaden its reach into all the world so that many will receive the blessing of Heaven and not suffer in the consequence of Hell. This is our thanksgiving profession! Hear our prayer and send Your Holy Spirit to renew, revive and rejoice. We ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.