Monday, August 15, 2016

Colossians Week 2 - Let's Get to Know Jesus

Last week we started on this journey through a book of the Bible called Colossians. We talked about how the writer of the book, who’s name is Paul, wrote the book while in prison. He had been accused of the crime of starting a rebellion against the Empire of Rome. Even though his judge pronounced him innocent, the judge was still going to allow Paul’s accusers to try him in a court of their own. So, when Paul saw that this type of trial would lead him to certain death, he appealed to the highest court at the time; which was to the Emperor of Rome himself.

It’s in Rome where Paul awaits his day in court, and where Paul writes to this church in the city of Colossae. We talked last week about how Paul never met these people, but he wanted them to know of the unity that they had with him and all the churches that were around the world. 

We then talked about how we too are connected to all the churches around the world, where believers are worshipping God. We also looked into how we need to not look at our Alliance church as the focal point of what God is doing, but rather as a grain of sand on the shore that, when joined with the other grains of sand, show the beauty of the shore. And when we realize that we are the Church with the other believers down the road and across the world, we will then show to the world that God exists.

Now, let’s go back into the book of Colossians as we make our way through the entire four chapters. Today, we’re going to be in the book of Colossians chapter 1, starting in verse 15. So if you have your Bibles, please open up to Colossians 1:15.

Like last week, we’re going through the book of Colossians, because we want to follow what God wanted to speak to the original people that heard it, through the writer. 
The first section, which is the first 14 verses, talks about how the Church is united because of Jesus, and through prayer. 

Today, Paul is going to go deeper into understanding this Jesus that unites the Church.
So let’s read together Colossians 1:15-23

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 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.

So, what’s Paul saying here? In the first section, Paul talked about how prayer connected us, because of Jesus. So one would think that he would have two options going forward in his writing. Prayer or Jesus. Should he talk more on what prayer is, and how it connects believers and the Church? Or should he talk more about Jesus, and how he connects the Church together?
Paul opts to talk about Jesus. But not just telling us about how we need to follow Jesus to be a Christian, or how Jesus has some good moral lessons for us to apply to our lives. No, Paul doesn’t doing any of that. Instead, Paul talks about who Jesus is. Why is that?

The week of June 20th, the teens had their In-Town youth mission’s trip. We did a lot of work projects in the church, and if you get the chance to look around the building you’ll see a lot of projects they did. The teens also lead a VBC or vacation Bible camp for the kids the live in town year around. We had a great turnout and the kids, like every year, are excited for what will happen in the future.
Ever night we did a time where we sung songs to God, and shared with each other out of the Bible. The thing that I shared with the teens on our last night together was getting to know God.

This is at the heart of what Paul is saying here in Colossians. We need to get to know this Jesus. Paul tells us that Jesus is: the Image of the Invisible God, that Jesus is the Creator God, that Jesus created all things for his personal enjoyment and to be recipients of his love.
Paul gives us a brief look into what is the incarnation, that’s a theological term for when God the Son comes down to earth, and wraps himself in humanity. With our our frailties and limitations. Jesus is the full God colliding with the full man.
Paul also tells us the reason for God coming down to his creation. Which is, because we as humans have the great tendency to do the opposite of what God created us to do. God has stated a set of laws that everyone must follow perfectly to be acceptable to heaven’s perfect entrance requirement. And when we break the least of these laws, we can no longer be admitted to heaven and to God’s presence, because a perfect God in his full awesomeness, can’t be around a person that has even the smallest taint of imperfection.

But, Paul tells us that, Jesus comes to earth as this fully God fully man collision to live the life that we couldn’t, die a death that he didn't deserved, and raise back to life to show that it was all true.
In this short little section Paul tackles who God is, the Creator, why this world is messed up, our not doing what God created us to do, and how God went about fixing all of it, through he himself coming to earth in the collision of God and man together, and who died to provide us a path back to God. That’s a lot in only nine verses.

So, why would Paul do this? Why would Paul want us to know Jesus like this?

As I read this, the Scripture from Matthew 7: 21-23 popped into my head. This passage of Scripture has Jesus telling a crowd that there will be a lot of people standing in front of Jesus some day that will say, “look at all the good things I’ve done.” But Jesus responds with these cutting words, “Depart from me I never knew you.”

To me, this is the saddest passage of the Bible. Why? Because I see in it Jesus’ heart breaking. Another place in the Bible, the book of Luke chapter 19 verses 41-44, says this, “41 As he (Jesus) approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.’”

The distance from God that our sin has caused, breaks God’s heart. Jesus wept over the people that he came for. Jerusalem might as well be standing on Q-Mountain over looking Quartzsite. Jesus weeps over us too, that we may know him. Paul writes to the Colossians Church that they would know him. And the Spirit desires for us to know Jesus in our own lives today. 

God’s desire is that humanity would know him. But having a working understanding of who God is, and a moral understanding of right and wrong, isn’t what Paul is getting at in the passage. Paul’s talking about knowing the who of Jesus. In other places, Paul talks about Jesus’ being the groom to the Church’s bride. And just like a husband knows, or should know, his wife’s response to things even before she can say a word, the Church, the people of God should know Jesus in the same.

Paul goes into such a quick summary of who Jesus is, because he wants us to go deeper into knowing Jesus on our own. Paul’s not talking about learning facts and figures about who God is; Paul is talking about knowing God on an intimate level, so much so that we would know what he wanted before even knowing that he wanted it done.

How much different would our lives be, if we knew intimately the God who created us? And because of that, how much more would we know ourselves?

I shared with the teens on Friday about how Marika and I pin trade at Disneyland when we go there. While pin trading I came across this one pin that I thought was fantastic, but after I bought it, never saw it again. But it’s image is etched into my mind. The pin was a picture of Mickey Mouse painting a self-portrait of himself. As he leans over to look at the mirror to get his facial features just right, the mirror reflects, not Mickey, but Walt Disney, Mickey’s creator.
To know this Jesus that Paul is talking about, is to know ourselves. We ask questions like why am I here? Why is this world the way it is? We struggle over money, family, relationships, the future, the past, the present. We self-doubt, self-harm, self-degrade. And because of all this, things can seem to become bleak around us.
And the remedy for all of that is what Paul is trying to get us to understand here, that we need to know this Jesus, who is God collided with man. Who loves us enough to leave his perfect throne, to slum it with us in all of our problems. This God, who died to bridge the gap between us and him so that we can not live in the failures of the past, but in his victory of eternity.

Paul wants us to realize our connection to each other is because of Jesus, and he wants us to know this Jesus intimately. The question is do we?

The best way to do it is by first reading about Jesus in the Bible, but also to talk with him. Because as Paul says in his other writings, Jesus is alive and we can talk with him.

Do you know Jesus? If he were to stand before us right now, would he say depart from me, because I don’t know you? Or would he say, welcome friend and child of mine?

Today, I want to give you a chance to respond. Let’s take a sincere look at our lives, and our beliefs about God. If Jesus came right now, would you know that you were accepted because you know him intimately? Or are you not sure?

Take a moment and answer that question for yourself. Be honest, it’s just you and him. If yes, then praise him. If no, what is holding you back? As you answer that question, my prayer for you is the uno matter what, you will know Jesus intimately and deeper than anything you could ever yet imagine.

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