After evaluating the effects of Covid in church life today, we are all wondering, “What will the church will be like in the aftermath of this pandemic?”
The National Research Council reported, months into the pandemic, that 32% of “practicing” Christians had not been to church or had even watched their church online. So it seems the problem is not simply with our secularized culture or the growing threats to religious liberty, but the problem very well could be apathy and indifference within our churches.
Winston Churchill said, “when there are no enemies within, the enemies without can’t hurt us.” Perhaps this pandemic will prove to be a providential pruning, a divine separation of the wheat from the chaff, but even with all these concerns, challenges and criticisms, this could be the greatest hour for us as born-again believers in Jesus Christ.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Our troubles have always brought us blessings, they always will, for they are the dark chariots of God’s brilliant grace.”
In Colossians 2:6-8, Paul offers us three truths to cling to as we continue to champion the church in these uncertain times:
So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.
1. Our Unchanging Purpose (2:6)
As the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are the administrators and stewards of hope.
When the government deemed the church “non-essential,” my response to that was, “Is there any commodity in the world as needful as hope?” While man can live 40 days without food, three days without water, and eight minutes without air, he can’t live at all without hope.
While we watched church change — the music, the methods and the ministry — one thing that cannot change or be compromised is the message. We see the simple and saving message highlighted here in our text. It’s about receiving Christ Jesus as Lord. Our salvation is not unlike my ministry, it’s nothing I achieved, it was simply received from the Lord. It wasn’t because I was worthy or winsome or some kind of diamond in the rough. No, I was broken, alienated from God, helpless and hopeless until I received the only provision for my sin and shame.
See the significance of this glorious name:
1) Christ — (christos) the anointed one from God, the Messiah, as Peter declared in his great confession at Caesarea Philippi. (Matt. 16)
2) Jesus — (Matt. 1:21) His name is His mission. The Godman born in Bethlehem, raised in the city of Nazareth, we call Him Jesus of Nazareth, but as His name relates His mission, this title refers to His majesty.
3) Lord — He has authority, He is the sovereign of this universe, He has dominion, power, honor and glory and thus we are called to surrender our lives to Him.
That’s our message and we must not be deterred from it. Some are calling for the church to address social justice or embrace critical race theory and get involved in political issues but here’s the problem. It’s not our message! Our message is about deliverance from sin, the forgiveness of hardened hearts, the grace and mercy available to everyone who will believe. It’s the gospel that changes people’s attitudes, behavior, their biases and their hatred. In Christ Jesus we are one, regardless of race, social standing, wealth or past prejudices.
2. Our Unifying Practice (2:6,7)
We are called to walk in Him. In other words, we are to be continually progressing in the truth of the gospel so that our lives would be a testimony of God’s redeeming grace. Colossians 1:10 calls us to walk worthy in the manner of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and being fruitful in every good work.
The building blocks of our life are coming together to make us more like Jesus. That is our life mission (Rm. 8:29). The word picture is of how the roots of a tree keep it stable when adverse winds blow, and storms are demolishing everything around. We are like a tree planted by rivers of water (Ps. 1). We remain stable and secure.
This is the time when Christians must be found faithful, not compromising or compartmentalizing our lives, but steadfast in our faith (Rom. 12:2).
The Scriptures give three indicators that our walk with God is authentic:
We are living in the days of apostasy, of people abandoning the church. Some of those who seemingly at one time walked with God have now gone the way of Cain. Part of the problem is that we have put more emphasis on how a person starts in their faith than in how they finish; however, the Bible emphasizes both. Joshua Harris, a prominent pastor and author in 2018, divorced his wife, declaring “My life has taken a massive shift” as he denied his faith in Jesus Christ. What do we say about these matters? While it’s not ours to judge, the Bible declares this (1 John 2:19).
This is the tangible evidence that we are living our lives rooted and built up in Christ our Lord.
We must live in such a way people are attracted to us by our love, our kindness, our grace, our integrity and that our lives are full of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
Six times in the four chapters of Colossians, Paul brings up gratitude. In this text, we are to be abounding with thanksgiving, overflowing with gratitude. Thankfulness is the barometer of your spiritual health. Over 100 times in Scripture we are commanded to be grateful.
There are a lot of ways for you to get out of the will of God but the easy access to get back where you need to be spiritually is through confession (1 John 1:9)
3. Our Underlying Problem (2:8)
There has never been a more applicable verse in 21st century America.
It begins with “Beware,” see that you are not taken captive, no one carries you off and deceives you (as a pirate commandeers a ship on the high seas).
The word ‘philosophy’ — (phileo = love) (sophia = wisdom) refers to worldly wisdom, academic pursuit and the ideologies of secular and aesthetic teachings. It’s what has turned the tide of this once great nation, secular teachers at universities, liberal beliefs that have become pervasive in public schools and it has resulted in a growing disdain for moral absolutes and reverence for God.
If you walk into many university classrooms with a Christian worldview, you will be harassed, attacked and laughed at. The only religion being taught is secular humanism and all of this is called here “empty deceit.” In other words, it’s false, fraudulent and it’s toxic.
Friedrich Nietzsche mocked Christianity in his day. He deemed it a religion of weaklings. He was the first person to propagate the idea that “God is dead,” but Nietzsche himself found no resolve in his aesthetic philosophy and tragically spent the last 11 years of his life insane. If you live without God, it will make you a little crazy as well.
The philosophy of this world has plunged mankind into the abyss of darkness, and we’ve all witnessed what Isaiah the prophet declared, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” (Isa.5:20)
Replanter, the Church will not fail because Jesus and the Church are inseparable! Even as we continue to deal with the ongoing realties of a pandemic, find hope in these verses.
Published January 28, 2021