Watchful & thankful (Colossians 4:2-6)

5:00 pm, Sunday 7th February 2016

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The following summary consists of notes which appeared in the service sheet to help with understanding the passage. The sermon can be listened to using the links above (when available). However, please note that the sermon is fairly short because the service also included a time of discussion which was not recorded.

Jesus is building the eternal kingdom of heaven (Mt4:17) that His Father desires on the earth (Mt 6:9,10). He himself is its king (Ac 2:36) and every Christian is a citizen (Ph 3:20). Today, he works for this goal from the throne of God in heaven (3:1). But one day he will return to earth to finish the task by rebuilding all things (Ph 3:20,21; 2Pe 3:13). As we wait for him, Christians live in heavenly ways (3:3) which, by the Spirit’s power (Ga 5:16-26), break free of the usual patterns of this sinful world (3:5-10). One of the key ways this is seen, is the removal of old social barriers (3:11) so that Christians can live at peace, as a single body under Christ (3:15).

Paul knows, however, that this divine project will be viewed as dangerously disruptive by some outside the kingdom. They are, of course, right to see it in that way. Jesus and his people, by their words and lifestyle, challenge false gods, wicked leaders and sin; his kingdom is counter-cultural. But we don’t disturb ordinary society simply for the sake of it (Ro 12:17-21). Being Christ’s people does not mean that we jettison other relationships that we might find hard, uncomfortable or, even, unfair (3:18-4:1). Instead, we are determined to work hard at whatever is good within them, wanting our Lord to be honoured by, and pleased with, the way we live.

Yet this is not easy. We are a God’s people in a godless world which is dominated by an evil spirit (Ep 2:1,2). Situations will arise which can damage our walk with Christ. So it’s vital we behave like the guards of a city: keeping watch for danger & entrusting ourselves to our Father, knowing that only his power can sustain us. The Lord Jesus told his tired disciples, as his crisis moment approached, to “watch and pray” (Mk 14:38); Paul gives the same advice (v2). We survive as believers by constantly calling out to God. We bring to him the strains and tests upon us, and give thanks for all the answers he gives. We work at our oneness in the Lord by crying out for the power of the Spirit to make it happen. We get through each day by constant prayer to God.

This applies to all believers. In the flesh, we are all weak. Facing the effects of sin, the hatred of the world, the opposition of the devil and the spectre of death is hard. The Lord Jesus himself cried out to his Father, as the strain of the task weighed heavily upon him (Mk 13:34). We need to pray and Paul is only too aware of that personally. Hence, he next asks for prayer on behalf of himself and his team (v3). He has been given the job of explaining the new thing that God has done in Christ to reconcile people of all types (1:15-29). It’s been costly – Paul is presently chained up because of it (possibly in Ephesus). It’s been a slog – he needs God to open up doors for his message. The responsibility weighs heavily on his shoulders (v4) – he’s a driven man. So he asks these Christians to stand with him in his work, by praying for him and his fellow-workers.

But what of themselves? Living as Christ’s people they’ll get trouble from outsiders too, so let them be ready! Their ways must shine out the lovely wisdom of Christ’s kingdom (1:9-14). They aren’t to drift through this evil world but capture every moment for Christ (v5). When confronted over their new behaviour, they should answer attractively, finding words which reflect well the wonder of what Jesus has graciously done for them and suited to each challenger (v6). Others may be antagonised by his kingdom, but Christians are to show the love within it (Lk 6:27-36).