Sermon 7/17/2016 Pentecost 9

Pastor Kenneth Frey
Pentecost 9
7/17/16
Colossians 1:21-­29
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. 24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

Christ in Me
1. Reconciled by Christ’s physical body
2. The riches of God’s glory is found in the gospel 3. Let us suffer for the good of the Church

What are little boys made of? What are little boys made of? Snips and snails
And puppy­dogs' tails That's what little boys are made of What are little girls made of? What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice
And everything nice
That's what little girls are made of

Are little boys really made up of puppy?dog tails? Where did they get the tails? And what’s a “snip” anyway? Are little girls made up of everything nice? I know some brothers who would disagree with that.

What about you? What are you made of? Of course, we could say bones, muscle, blood, nerves and other tissue. But what are you really made of? What are you like on the inside? Who are you?

Paul tells us who we were. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. “Your mortgage application has been denied, your credit isn’t good enough.” “Your daughter didn’t make the team. She doesn’t shoot well enough.” “You’re not ready for a promotion; your performance hasn’t been good enough.” Those are tough things to hear from other people. We don’t like to be told that we are not good enough. But when they come from God, that really hurts.

Paul says that we were alienated from God. We were strangers to him. We know how sad it is when a child becomes alienated from his parents or friends become alienated over some disagreement. It’s especially sad when we are alienated from God. And that’s what we are. From the inside out we were the opposite of God. Our mind, heart, soul, will, and attitude opposed God. We wanted to make our own version of a god and to set up our standard of right and wrong. We sought to create our own happiness and establish our own security. We claimed to be our own masters, free to do as we saw fit, crediting ourselves for success and blaming God for any disappointments.

But that has all changed. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Paul emphasized Christ’s physical body, that God really became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. What happened in the first thirty years of the first century is a fact, not fiction, not a story.

And why did he come in the flesh? To reconcile us. To completely make us completely other than we were. We were alienated. We were enemies. But by Christ’s death on the cross – in his physical body – he completely changed our status in his sight. In Christ we are holy, without blemish and free from accusation before God.

People don’t reconcile easily. Just look at all the riots and shootings going on in our country today. If anything, animosity escalates. People are not good at reconciling with others. So it is an amazing thing that we who were enemies and full of evil behavior have been reconciled to the God who is holy, holy, holy. Only the power of the cross could accomplish that. Only the grace of God could give us this new friendship with him.

Let’s not lose that friendship he so graciously has given us. If you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. The temptation is to let go of God’s promise of salvation because we can’t help but be aware of our constant sins and failures. And there are plenty of unscriptural people around us that tell us we need to make a decision for Jesus, we need to hand our lives over to God and such garbage. They make us feel that being reconciled to God is my work and I haven’t done enough yet. Don’t listen to them. Do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

Are you searching for a feeling in yourself or are you looking for a special sign that your salvation is real and complete? We will not find a feeling or an emotion in us to confirm our salvation. We need look no further than the cross of Jesus. It’s not up to me to reconcile myself with God. Only God could accomplish that and he already has in the cross of Jesus Christ, Let us learn to say with Martin Luther: “You, my Lord Jesus, are my righteousness; I am your sin. You have taken from me what is mine and given to me what is yours.”

Instead of looking to the cross, so many look to themselves, what’s in them. Do they believe enough? Have they been good enough? And the reason is that the gospel just doesn’t fit our reason. That’s why Paul calls it a mystery. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Everybody loves a good mystery, right? The greatest mystery is why would anyone reach out to save his or her enemy? Why would anyone sacrifice his Son for his enemies? Why would a holy God die for us who deserve nothing from him? That’s the mystery of the gospel, the mystery of God’s great love for us.

And he holds out to us an even greater mystery when he declares that this mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Not only did he save us, he has taken up residence in us.

What are you made of? Are you made up of puppy dog tails or sugar and spice? What is in you? Christ is in you. And as long as Christ is in you, you have the hope of glory. More than that, it changes what your life is about. Paul told the Christians in Galatia, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Paul shows what that means in his life. Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. Imprisoned for proclaiming the gospel, Paul rejoiced about his sufferings. Why? Because it served the church. He saw suffering for the church as a high calling. It was Christ in him, laboring with Christ’s energy for the growth of God’s people.

Paul didn’t mean that Christ’s suffering wasn’t complete. No, Jesus did all that was needed to be done and suffered all that needed to be suffered for our salvation. But the world hates him so, there’s still suffering left over. With just two of us at home now, whatever I make for dinner, there are usually leftovers that Connie eats for lunch the next day. For those of us with Christ in us, the world brings us the leftovers of its hatred for Christ.

There’s still suffering to be done for the gospel. There’s still labor to be done for the Church. God’s purpose was not just to bring us into an eternal relationship with him in the eternal future, but into a vital, life?transforming fellowship in this life. Christ in me is the hope of glory, but it is also a high calling to give ourselves for the good of the Church just as Christ did.

What are you passionate about? How can you use that to serve others? How can you use your gifts for God’s people? Who can you help get to heaven? Let’s live our lives with purpose, not just for our own selfish desires, but for the blessing of those around us.

What are you made of? Sugar and spice? Puppy dog tails? No, Christ is in you. You have the hope of glory. You have his purpose in life.