I think it safe to assume that we all have been in crisis at some point in our lives. I am talking about those times when we reach a point of true desperation. I am talking about those times when we feel most exposed in relationships, raising our children, or suffering from things beyond our control like cancer or profound loss. In those times when we have lost control and have run out of answers to right the ship, or we see things in ourselves we didn’t think existed, we either spiral further out of control or we turn to God. When we turn to God we often do one of two things: We choose to trust God or we try to manipulate Him. This is not unique to those who are lost or immature in their faith. It can happen to us all, but it is a symptom of forgetting the heart of God and/or setting our expectation on our own will rather than His.
Often in our culture, we are encouraged to think outside the box. In the arena of creativity, this means to attempt what has never been done. In business, it means to lay aside convention for the prospect of growth. In a postmodern society, we are encouraged to define our own truth and to allow that “truth” to be dynamic–constantly shifting to meet the times. Progress, it seems, is all about revolutionary ideas that don’t submit to an established norm.
Colossians 1:12-14 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The human condition; we need deliverance.
How did we get here? Quite simply you were born into this kingdom of darkness! The word kingdom does not mean a location somewhere out there like a fairy tale kingdom with castles and moats and drawbridges, princes and princesses. Kingdom refers to the rule, reign, and power of a king. The ruler of this world is Satan. While Christ’s death and resurrection defanged and defeated Satan he has not been vanquished. That is why Peter writes “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Though Colossians 3:1-4 serves as the major transitional passage in the book, Paul already used 2:6-7 as a “mini” transition. Here Paul exhorted us to live our lives with the same “Christ Jesus the Lord” that we initially put our faith in. That is, this One, Jesus, who is Creator & Sustainer of the universe (1:16-17), who has priority & preeminence over all creation (1:15, 17), who reconciled sinful mankind to Himself & resides as Head of the church (1:22, 18) and in whom all God’s fullness dwells & all wisdom & knowledge hides (1:19; 2:3) – this One must consume our lives; we must live in Him!
Following this brief transitional command to “walk in” Jesus, Paul delays in explaining what this means & how this is done. Instead, in 2:8-23 he warns about the false teachers who seek to mislead them (see 2:8, 16-19, 20-23), while at the same time he elevates what Jesus has done and accomplished for and in us (see 2:9-15, 19). Only then does Paul describe for us how to walk in Jesus; this he does in 3:1-2.
For some of you who know me, it may be hard to believe but when I was young I was not cool. Of course, I am kidding. I am not sure I am very cool today, but I am not nearly as conflicted as I was for the majority of my life. Today, I am confident in a simple and profound truth. In junior high I was among the 99% of the population that was awkward and tortured by the 1% of the gifted and beautiful people of the world.
At 2:00 am on October 9, 2017 Edwin Guzman was awakened by the sound of roaring wind. When he looked outside he could see nothing but a sky darkened by smoke. He quickly realized that his family and home were in the path of a raging wild fire. He went back into his house awakened his wife, son and his parents telling them to get up they had to leave immediately. He then went back to alert his neighbors. Within 5 minutes he, his family and 2 dogs were in their 2 cars looking for a way out of their neighborhood. Familiar streets were impassable due to fire.
That was the beginning of the most costly and deadly wild fire in California’s history. Nearly a quarter of a million acres were burned, 9,000 buildings destroyed, 44 lives lost. Cost exceed $9 billion dollars.
America’s moral, cultural and societal trajectory is disturbing to many Christians. These changes are particularly worrying when they impact our children. Among other things, parents are forced to have conversations about sexuality, pornography, and identity in a manner and on a timetable we likely would not have chosen. News headlines once reflecting realities “out there” are now openly discussed in elementary school classrooms. In the midst of anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed, its good to reflect on what is true. When we treasure Gods’ Word—the definitive proclamation about reality—we can be at peace in the storm and give our children the gift of an unshakable and certain hope.
If I look back at my new life with Jesus, the periods where my growth stagnated or I felt stuck almost always were periods where I was captive to bitterness in my heart toward others. I think all of us, if we are honest, can recall a time where we have experienced significant pain at the hands of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we find ourselves in these situations, forgiveness seems far less gratifying than personal justice or writing relationships off.
1 Peter 5:5-14
Focused Text: 1 Peter 5:6-7
Anxiety is debilitating. Whether it seizes us daily or relatively infrequently, we have all at some point felt the immense power that anxiety possesses in strangling our joy. In the moment, unless conditioned to respond in a godly manner, we will tend to feel overwhelmed and defeated by anxiety.