When I first became a believer, I was fortunate to be swept up by an older believer and mentor into a men’s group where I first learned how to do life as a follower of Jesus. I was just glad to be around a group of men that I esteemed so highly. Looking back, I cringe at the things that would come out of my mouth. I was in sales at the time and I did well and as a result, lived a very materially-driven life. Breaking that pattern was hard, mostly because I didn’t realize how deeply it influenced my life.
Years ago, as a young marine, I spent the night on watch in the jungle of Thailand. As the sun rose over the treetops I had a unique view on a hilltop over the jungle valley. It was breathing taking and I knew it. However, it was a mere moment of relief shrouded in misery that preceded this moment and would undoubtedly follow, as the day proceeded and the jungle heated up and life continued into the next day and so forth. I felt in that moment empty, devoid of a soul. I didn’t feel that way simply because of the rigors of military life, but more so because of the moral compromises I had made up to this point in my young life.
“Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. ” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?””
Since the presidential campaign of 2016, “Fake News” has invaded politics, entertainment, religion and virtually all areas of the media. How did this phenomenon grow so rapidly? We live in a day where anyone with an Internet connection and a social media account can become the source of “news” or spread a false story simply by sharing or retweeting it. We also live in a day and a culture where truth no longer matters.
In the first 14 verses of Ephesians, Paul lays out 6 benefits that God (the Father) has given to us through our immersion into Christ (the Son) (Romans 6:3-4). These benefits are “spiritual blessings”, enabling us to succeed in the new life we have been born into through the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8):
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.