In our Wednesday night Bible Study, we focused on several verses, but mostly Colossians 2:6-7. First from The Message, and also from one of my favorite, J.B. Phillips:
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7 MSG)
I remember my father-in-law commenting on how, many years ago, he had graduated from the University of Detroit saying , “I tore up my diploma and said, ‘Now I am going out to actually learn something!'” (And eventually became a very successful father and businessman — who by the way, loves the Lord!).
In the Church, far too many of us are content to know some things about this “God” of ours, but are never interested in actually knowing this “God.” They may attend a church (occasionally), but with no commitment to the church or to the Lord of the church. As our Pastor has said many times:
A life of knowledge about Jesus is not the same as living that knowledge as a disciple. Life in Jesus is supposed to be active, not theoretical. And for so many believers theory is as far as it gets.
There is a mega-church not ten miles from my house. 7,000 folks attend every weekend! Yeah, it’s pretty amazing, But, my contention is that if everyone in that church lived as a disciple, my neighborhood would know about it — for there would be an unrelenting wave of love and action stemming from 7,000 souls understanding the need to live the faith as disciples — and as a result the entirety of the surrounding area would see the Kingdom made manifest by such a witness.
But, we see no such witness. Sure there are “pockets of glory,” but 7000 souls and no permanent fragrance of the Kingdom? What is being taught, discipleship or church attendance?
Actually, I am guessing that probably 6,980 of them attend to be entertained and walk away “happy.”
Yep! Happy, fat and lazy. Because unfortunately, that is the way most supposed Christians are. Their feelings get ruffled if the pastor talks too loud or if the color of the carpeting isn’t the right tone. One teacher called it the “eternal babyhood of the believer.” That’s right. After years of hearing messages and pulling passages from their Bread Box, they remain the same. They continually need a minister to keep after them—changing their diapers, putting talcum on them, and checking that their milk isn’t too hot. Our churches seem more like a hospital than an army. (Which is good, but eventually, the patient is supposed to be healed and no longer needing treatment).
My pastor talked about that large church with many programs and many entertainers, and I argue that they have grown numerically, but growing in numbers is not growing spiritually! Shoot, cemeteries grow numerically! But if you have one hundred people without love and spiritual majority, then two hundred without love and spiritual majority, you are growing, you are just getting fat.
That’s what Paul was complaining about with the church in Corinth, “You are still babies,” he wrote. To the Galatians he wrote that he needed to go through the “pains of childbirth” all over again for them. And when the members of the Hebrew church should have been teachers, they needed to be taught the first principles all over again. All they could handle was milk instead of solid food!
So no, each believer should grow to understand that they have within them all of the resources of the One who upholds the Universe. They should grow to know that their Father loves them, cares for them, speaks to them and guides them, if they would just listen to Him.
That’s what Paul was telling the church in Colossae:
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving! (Colossians 2:6-7 MSG)
That was from The Message. But J.B. Phillips translates it as:
Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him—in simple faith. Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it, and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7 PHILIPS)
I love that! “Just as you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, go on living in him — in simple faith“! Oh man! We are continually trying to complicate all this? When you first came to the Lord, was it complicated? Did you have to run a gauntlet and leap over tall buildings? No! However, it came, it was simple and straight forward!
Paul’s introduction to those words of encouragement, stated:
I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.”
Oh wow! How many of you have been “woven into a tapestry of love . . .”? How many of you are ” . . . in touch with everything there is to know of God“? How many of you are “. . . confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery“? Not enough, I know! If there were, we would be revolutionizing our neighborhoods and cities!
We have so complicated something that was meant to be simple! Life in the Spirit has to be easy so that the most ordinary person can live it! It can’t be something that requires you to read a stack of books to understand. When we come to our Father, and His way of living, we are not coming into some strange new word that is alien to us. He is leading us to LIVE our lives, not just profess it. If all you have to testify of your faith is the bumper sticker on your car, you have missed out on the greatest wonder of all! You have heard many times before, we are not called into a new religion, but rather, into a new relationship!
Truly, stop what you are doing right now (unless you are driving and listening to a recorded version of this). Now don’t get “spiritual,” and deepen your voice as if you are in a great Holy Temple. Just simply lift you arms and say, “Father, I do so want to know you. I am so tired of this “religion” I have been following. I want, within every cell of my body, to know you. I have heard all of the fancy talk over the years, but I am tired of that. It is YOU I need, and only YOU!”
Then email me and let me know what happened!
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts.
It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.