What does God want for us? I believe this is a question that comes to our minds from time to time. We are examining a portion of the Colossian letter where Paul describes what he wants for his readers, for those at the church at Laodicea, and for all those who have not seen Paul’s face. This is a unique section of Paul’s letter because he is not only addressing the Colossian church. He expands to the Christians in the city of Laodicea who has not met. He also includes others who read his letter who have not seen him. Paul describes himself as strenuously exerting himself of behalf of Christians he has not met. The apostle Paul is imprisoned as he writes these words which leads us to the implication that Paul is strenuously praying to God for a number of things for these Christians. In our message today we are going to examine what Paul wants for these Christians and by extension what God wants for us.
Paul begins by declaring that he wants believers to have their hearts encouraged. To understand what Paul means we need to distance ourselves from how our culture uses this language and consider how the scriptures use the heart. For us, we speak of the heart as the center of emotions. We speak of having “a broken heart,” “doing things with our heart rather than our minds,” and “listening to our heart.” However, this is not how the heart is used in the scriptures. Paul is not praying that these Christians will have an emotional feeling about God. The heart is more frequently used to describe the deepest part of a person. The heart affects every part of a person. We still use language similar to this meaning in the scripture. We sometimes will speak of “getting to the heart of the matter.” What we mean is that we are going to get to the deepest layer of the issue. When God declared that he would write his law on the hearts of the people God was not talking a feeling. God was talking about the law being written on every part of our being, down to the very depths of the soul. Therefore, when Paul describes his desire for us to have our hearts encouraged, he is not praying for a feeling of encouragement, but that our souls will be encouraged. Paul wants every aspect of our very being, to the depths of our soul, to be encouraged in the Lord. It is the strengthening of every part of our person. This is the basis of Paul’s desire. Paul is going to explain how we can have this deep seated encouragement.
Knit Together In Love
This deep encouragement comes by being knit together in love. Love for each other is the way we can become knit together. It is important for us to understand that a church must be knit together in love or it is failing. Unfortunately, many do not see the need for gathering together. Christians do not understand the purpose of joining a local church. They do not understand why we should come together. This is one of the very important reasons that we must join ourselves together as the Lord’s body. We are to be knit together in love and this cannot happen if we show up late and leave early or race for the door after the last prayer. We identify ourselves as members of this congregation because we are making a declaration that we are going to work together toward this goal of encouraging the hearts of one another. We must make a commitment to the Christians who are gathering together. If we do not then we are simply a consumer. We are simply using the blessings that come from the gathering of Christians, but we are not putting anything in ourselves. We are treating the church like a McDonalds and simply consuming everything that it can give. We use its resources, efforts, and time but contribute nothing to the rest of the Christians. God commands us to be knit together in love. This is not option. Church is never described as something you go to. The church is something to which you belong. Stop going to church and start being the church. Stick around. Talk to people. Carry a conversation. Get to know one another. Participate in our community groups. Get involved.
To Reach All The Riches of Full Assurance of Understanding and the Knowledge of God’s Mystery
When we are knit together in love and stop selfishly consuming, Paul tells us great things are going to happen. Not only will our hearts be encouraged, but we will reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery. We come together to attain a fuller understanding and a deeper knowledge of God. We cannot get to know God in isolation. We cannot become what God wants us to be as an individual and as a church when we are disconnected. Why? The reason you will not become what God wants you to be is because Christianity cannot be performed in isolation. Following Christ means practicing his teachings on other people. Following Jesus means serving one another and growing together. We cannot love our neighbor as ourselves in isolation. We cannot do unto others as we would have them do to us when we are not joining together. We are here to practice our love and devotion to Jesus on each other. We are here to strengthen and encourage the hearts of one another. That is why we sing. That is why we pray. That is why we preach. We do not do these things merely because “God commanded it.” These are the tools God has given us to “reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery.”
This verse also tells us that we must be a teaching church or else we are failing. The church is not about coming together, eating food, playing games, and having mere socialization. So many churches are about telling stories, showing movies, performing dramas, with a smattering of Bible verses thrown in from time to time. We will not reach all the riches of the knowledge of God’s mystery if that is what we do. This is why you will not see those kinds of activities here. We are here to have our hearts encouraged by getting to know Jesus. Notice that Jesus is the mystery. Jesus is the fulfillment of how God would redeem the world from its sins. In Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found. Our goal is to get to know Jesus and practice what we learn about Jesus on each other.
Let these words sink into our minds for a moment: In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. True wisdom and knowledge is not found in the ways of the world. The treasures of life are found in Christ. True wisdom is found in Christ. Life changing knowledge is found in Christ. These treasures are not found anywhere else. Now let us add to that thought. The knowledge and wisdom of the Almighty God are found in Christ. The mind of God is found in Jesus. Life is found in Jesus. Everything you need is found in Jesus.
Paul teaches us these truths so that we will not be deceived with persuasive, well-crafted arguments. Paul does not want us to lose sight of where the true treasure lies. Do not be deceived into believing the arguments of the world. You will hear arguments to look in many other places for the treasures of life but in Jesus. Jesus is where life is found. We have tried the futile ways of the world and we are not finding happiness in those things. Jesus is where true wisdom, true knowledge, and true life are found.
Walk In Christ
Paul then makes the following exhortation: as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. Just as you made the commitment to join Christ, make the same commitment to live your lives according to Christ’s teachings. The same dedication and zeal that caused you to begin your walk with Jesus must be maintained as you live your life. Paul describes what this walk looks like.
(1) Rooted and built up in Christ. Being rooted in Christ is such a great picture. Paul paints a picture of stability in lives that are built on Christ. Life brings all kinds of turmoil and problems. In Christ we are able to have a stable calm and peace through life’s difficulties. The language is similar to the words of the psalmist who described the life of the blessed person.
His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water. (Psalm 1:2–3 ESV)
Stabilize your life by turning to Jesus. Stabilize your life by following his plan for your life. We are not root and stable in Christ when we follow the wisdom of the world and do what we think is best. Follow God’s blueprint for a good life and you will become rooted in him.
(2) Established in the faith, just as you were taught. Walking in Christ means that we will do as the scriptures teach. We will listen to the word of God and study the word of God. Then we will change our lives to obey the word of God.
(3) Abounding in thanksgiving. Walking in Christ means a life that is overflowing with thankfulness. In Christ we have a family that is knit together in love so that we can be encouraged, strengthened, and grow in the knowledge of Christ who has all the treasures of life. Thank you Lord for giving us such a great blessing. May we take advantage of the blessings of being knit together in the family of Christ. Do not be a consumer. Belong to the family and reach the riches of Christ.