Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Latest Preach

Audio from a sermon I preached this Sunday at my church:

Here are the notes to accompany it:

Colossians 1:24-2:5

During the open worship time in our Sunday meeting, Kat brought Isaiah 61 to our attention. It prophesies about the life work of Jesus, a work which would be continued by his people after he had returned to heaven, but continued by you and me at what cost? What level of inconvenience or suffering are we prepared to tolerate as we walk with Jesus?

Paul gives us a window into the lengths he is prepared to go to see this prophecy fulfilled in the lives of his Gentile hearers in Colossians 1:24-2:5. In short, nothing will stop him, even incredible suffering and persecution. But there is more to it than Paul just being a “well-’ard” missionary. The unjust suffering he is living is a modern day presentation of the sufferings of Jesus. His life, as well as his words, embodied the message of the gospel. He is not talking about the suffering that comes from being punished for breaking the law, nor the suffering that is part and parcel of this fallen universe like disease, disability or death. He is talking about unjust suffering that come purely from the fact that he is a Christian. A suffering that, if he would only shut up and stop talking about Jesus, would stop immediately.

Jesus said that we would suffer for being his people, just like he did. (Matt 5:10-12, John 15:18-25.) If he, the Lord of all things, wasn’t above suffering, then who are we to say that we should be exempt from this? But the suffering is not meaningless, it is like the labour pains of a mother, (Gal. 4:19). Pain will soon give way to overwhelming joy, and the hope of that joy sustained Paul as it did Jesus, (Heb 12:1-12) and as it can us (1 Peter 4:12-16).

And what is that joy which sustains Paul, even through intense suffering? It is the anticipation of meeting Jesus AND presenting ALL the people he has shared the gospel with and pastored after their conversion mature and complete to Christ on the Day of Judgement. This hope points to his confidence in the gospel (N.B. The word mystery in this passage can be substituted with the word gospel.) that there is power in it, whoever you are, wherever you are from, whatever your background and allegiances, to save you from sin and present you faultless and radiant before Jesus.

The gospel is not moral philosophy. Society doesn’t need a dose of the 10 commandments to help it stay on the straight and narrow. It needs Jesus. People need Jesus. Life is not about what you know, but who you know. If you can answer a question about any moral choice, or the meaning of life the universe without quickly relating to the person of Jesus Christ, chances are you are barking up the wrong tree. However, fine the argument may sound, if Jesus is not nearby, it ain’t the right answer!

How have you suffered for being a Christian, if at all?
How is your life embodying the gospel, including suffering?
What’s your biggest fear when it comes to telling people about Jesus? What would Jesus say to us about overcoming fear?
What does praying for boldness look like for you?
How have you helped prepare the people in your life this week for meeting Jesus after death? What can you do in the week to come?
When was the last time a non-Christian asked you a question to which you gave the answer “Jesus?”

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