Colossians 1: Growing in your Relationship With God
The book of Colossians is great because here Paul is generally concerned for the spiritual well-being of these people. He doesn’t know them personally. But he has heard of them. They are new Christians and he is just concerned that they know the scoop, how to grow, things to watch out for, etc. I thought we’d take the last few weeks of summer here and look at a few of the issues that are really important for us as Christians, to growÿ.ÿ.ÿ. Tonight we’re looking at a prayer that Paul prays for these Colossians where he expresses his basic hopes for them?the things he really wants to see happen in their lives. So you can think of this prayer in that light. If I didn’t know these people, but I knew they were young Christians, what would I pray for them? What we’ll see is that this prayer forms a basis for the expectations we can have. What does God want to see happen to us? What is the ideal? I thought it would be interesting to ask that question of some of us. What impression did you have of Christianity? What did you think would happen to you if you became a Christian?
What will happen?
Knowledge of his will
This is the kind of stuff you want from God. Think of what it is that you would want from Godÿ.ÿ.ÿ. it would be knowledge of what it’s all about! When he expresses this idea of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will, it’s a general sense of being in tune with what God wants. You’re in touch with God’s perspective on things. You know the way God thinksÿ.ÿ.ÿ. He states that it is by means of “wisdom and spiritual discernment.” I don’t want to pretend that this is some super-mystical thing. Because we know that much of God’s wisdom is here in the scriptures. But there is also such a thing as spiritual wisdom and spiritual knowledge. And you meet people who have it. Maybe you know people who have it. Example: Have you ever talked to someone who could just see right through you? Example: Have you ever gone to people for answers, and there is one person who just has the deepest insight? This is kind of neat. It’s something I’ve wanted. That’s one of the reasons I’ve given myself to studying the scriptures. It’s also one of the reasons I spend time getting close to people who are like thisÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
Living in a way that’s worthy of the Lord and pleases him
But he also says that he prays they will live in a way that’s worthy of the Lord. The idea that they will live in a way that is comensurate with a relationship with God. And he expands on this to say that it means, “Pleasing God in everythingÿ.ÿ.ÿ.” Now, I have to make a distinction here between loving someone and being pleased by a person. I may love a person completely, but the things the do may not make me happy. Let’s make a distinction between a person and what that person doesÿ.ÿ.ÿ. With people you feel like their pleasure is used as a tool over you. If they’re not pleased with you, then that’s very serious and could result in rejection. So it makes you want to forget all about pleasing other people. Example: I’ve always had an intense desire to please people. But because I don’t want to be the victim of anyone’s whims, I’ve had to put on an air (a facade) that I could care less what people think of me! The thing about God is I never have to worry about whether he loves me or not. That’s not what we’re talking about here. His love for me always says the same. And so the only question is, can I even have the privilege of making God happy? Can I bring pleasure to his heart? Look at what it is to live in a way that pleases the Lord. He says in the following sentenceÿ.ÿ.ÿ. Picture this. God says, “This is what would make me happy. This is what would please me. If you had a productive and fruitful life, if you got to know me well, and if you had all kinds of power.” Honestly, that would make me happy too! Is this what God really wants? Could it be that God wants these things for you? Are you sure he doesn’t want something else? Think of the stereotypes of what makes God happy: if you don’t break the rules, if you are a prudish person, if you sit through lots of boring church meetingsÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
But instead, God says, “I want you to bear fruit,” meaning that he wants our lives to have meaning. He wants us to make a difference. He wants us to count for something. I’ll be if we went around here and asked, “What is the best thing that has happened to you since you became a Christian?” many people would point to this right here. Because the contrast is so stark. Before God begins to give us direction we focus on such small things. What am I going to do today? How can I feel good? And even the long term things, like careers and education, for many people who are thoughtful, they wonder, “Why? Why am I chasing the suburban dream? Why am I pursuing this career? Is it because that’s what my parents want?” But when God comes into the picture you choose a career with his will in mind. How will you be able to impact others for him through this career? How will you be able to make a permanent and eternal impact through your education? It’s very exciting! It’s a whole new perspective, “What eternal purpose does God have for me?” The world we live in is so cynical. “You are just you. Things don’t change. You’re a very small person in a world full of problems. So you might as well just get about the business of personal peace and affluence.” I hope you don’t listen to that. I hope some of us here believe God that he wants us to bear fruit in our life and make a difference. Example: We think today of people like the apostles. “Peter, Johnÿ.ÿ.ÿ. They were apostles!” But the truth is they were just fishermen, one was an accountant. They were very common people from small towns. And Jesus gave these guys a huge vision. Frequently I get the question, “Buck, what do you think I could do?” And I love that question, when I know the person and can answer it honestly. Because I’ve seen so many people who the world would have written off as insignificant become very powerful and effective servants of the Lord.
Increasing in the knowledge of him
He says also that what would make him happy is if we got to know him more. Here is something that is very interesting. Getting to know God. It’s a goal that I’ve really longed for. But I also see it as something that have a long way to go on. It’s encouraging for me to see that what God wants is for me to get to know him personally. And to a degree, it has happened and I’m happy with my relationship with God. But I’m also unhappy. I’m also dissatisfied. Because I know that there so much more. I know that there is distance there. And it frustrates me. I feel like sometimes we talk about God, and we learn about God, but I’m just beating around the bush. I’m not directly face to face with him. There is a passage that has spoken to me on this topic in Romansÿ9:15, 16ÿ.ÿ.ÿ. The context of this saying is when Moses says, “God, can I see you face to face?” Moses wanted that kind of intimacy with God. And Paul says, “It does not depend on the striving of man or human effort.” I think that young Christians would give themselves too much credit for knowing God. “I have tried to know God.” I think that as young Christians we tend to put too much of an emphasis on our own effort and our own worthiness and not enough on God’s grace. In fact there’s another passage where Paul himself admits that the greatness of the revelation he received from God really put his ego to the test. He was tempted to become haughty and prideful because of the extent to which God had revealed himself to him. I can see this with myself. I think if I was really on the inside track with God, if were were face to face, I’m not sure I would know how to handle that. I know I could see myself taking a lot of credit for that. So God has so work to do on my character before we can really have what he wantsÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
Strengthened with all power
There is such a thing as spiritual power. Again, I think it’s the kind of thing that is not granted to the power-hungry. But it is real. And I can think of many examples of times when I have seen it in my life and others around me. Example: I can think of times when people have spoken to me with such conviction, it was the voice of God himself. Example: I can think of times when I haven’t had power. I remember once I was leading a Bible study and the people in that Bible study rose up and mutinied against my leadership. I was shocked. I did not understand. I went to another Christian for advice. He said, “They wouldn’t have done that to so-and-so, would they?” I thought about it, “No, they wouldn’t have!” “I’ll tell you why. He’s got spiritual authority. He’s got spiritual power, and you don’t.” I saw it. It’s elusive. It is hard to put your fingers on. You certainly can’t pretend you have it. But it’s real. I think power and authority, used rightly, is a great thing. Nobody wants to be a weakling. There are probably some of us here who are weak. But it’s not like we said, “I want to be weak.” We probably wish we weren’t weak. We wish we could get some things done. That’s why you want power. There are people who get strong andÿ work out so that they can kick some butt. You can do that in the physical world. But not with God. Not with spiritual power. The key to having spiritual power is to have humility.ÿ It’s to know that it’s not from me. In IÿCor.ÿ12:9 God says, ‘My power is perfectedÿ in weakeness.” So there is a paradox hereÿ.ÿ.ÿ. For the sake of being able to get things done, I want power. But I also know that I must have humilityÿ.ÿ.ÿ.