As you live

Summer 2022  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:27
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As you live

Anyone here feel just a little bit sorry for Martha?
Martha seems to have been left with all the preparations for the meal that is to be given to their guests.
In Near Eastern culture, then as now, this was a considerable obligation, so Martha’s aggravation in the circumstances seems entirely understandable.
But there’s something for us to consider here and as we reflect on what was unfolding in Martha and Mary’s home, we are encouraged also to conside rhow our Colossians reading might put us back on track.
Last week I had an opportunity to share a discussion with others about some of the things that create blockages in our walk with the Lord.
The heart struggles that we go through in the midst of difficulty or crisis, often in times of conflict as we come head to head with other peoples agendas and views that differ from ours.
We looked at why we respond the way we so often do when our desires - often from good motives - hit an obstacle - usually because of the action or inaction of others.
Martha displays classic characteristics here. Perhaps some of them resonate with you:
Desire - I want
So far so good.
Demand - I must
My desire is no longer an expression of love for God or love for neighbour, but something I crave for myself.
Need - I will
The deisre now becomes essential - I cannot go on without it.
Expectation - You should
No my relationships with others become affected - If I really believe that this is a need, then it seems right that you will meet my need if you really care for me.
Disappointment - You didn’t
You are standing in the way of what rules my heart.
Punishment - Because you didn’t, I will.... (respond in anger, silent treatment, hurtful words, vengeance or even violence).
Martha thinks if only Jesus would do something. Doesn’t he realise how important this meal is and how unhelpful Mary is being?
But Martha’s legitimate desire has now taken over her heart and she can’t see it. Her desire for everything to go well has become an idol.
Notice, Jesus doesn’t say she is wrong to desire help and support - but he does remind her with gentleness and firmness that there is a better way.
Luke 10:42 NIVUK84
42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:42 HCSB
42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
and what is it that Mary has done?
Luke 10:39 NIVUK84
39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
The Greek used here means that she wasn’t just hearing Jesus’ words, she was ‘absorbing’ them.
Well, perhaps like me there have been times in your life where genuine desires have become idols in your heart and impacted the way you relate to God and to others?
As we turn to our Colossians reading, we note Paul is speaking against a new teaching that is enticing the Christians in Colossae with new desires.
New desires that sound good, but which only lead them to chase after a bogus spirituality.
They are getting distracted by other desires and they can no longer see what is right before their eyes.
Although Paul is writing into a very specific situation, I couldn’t help but see that Paul could just have easily been speaking to Martha. He could just as easily be speaking to you and I, when our desires start to take control of us.
Paul gives three guiding principles to keep us on the right path, as we choose what is best or make the right choices when it comes to our ongoing Christain growth:
The Message of Colossians and Philemon This Way Ahead (Colossians 2:6–7)

1. As you received … so live.

2. As you were rooted … be built up.

3. As you were taught … be established in truth.

Finally he adds a most telling phrase.
Those who follow his call are to be overflowing with thanksgiving.
I wonder if Paul is drawing on the jargon of the new vising teachers?
Did they speak of the ‘overflowing life’, or the ‘abundant life’?
Paul believes in fullness too.
He sees faithful Christians as ‘overflowing’, and the cup that runs over is, beyond controversy, full! But of what does this overflow consist?
The visiting teachers are making much of the spiritual wealth that would belong to those who accepted what they said.
Paul says, to be bursting with thankfulness is a true witness of the Spirit within us.
For the voice of thanksgiving speaks without ceasing of the goodness of God.
It claims nothing.
It marvels at his mercy.
It is the language of joy, just because it need look no longer to its own resources.
It is an expression of dependence on another and his name is Christ Jesus, the Lord.
It is also heard on the lips of the ‘weakest Christian on his knees’.
To be ‘filled with gratitude’ is to be ‘filled with the Spirit of Christ’.
Because the Christian rejoicing in this blessing of a thankful heart will have his eyes fixed upon the right person and the right place, Christ at God’s right hand.
He or she can no longer be taken up with themselves without being immediately reminded that everything they possesses is the gift of God.
The only thing which they can claim to be filled with, which comes from themselves, and which they can offer to God, is gratitude.
Maybe that’s not how you are feeling this morning. Perhaps you are feeling spiritually dry.
if only…if only I wasn’t burdened with this responsibility or that, if only people would understand how difficult my life is right now, if only everyone else would just do what I need them to do....if only....
There was a danger that the Colossians would start to think…if only...
So Paul goes on to warn the Colossians to be on their guard against the false teaching that was creeping into their fellowship.
The three ways in which he raises the alarm are forceful and expressive.
1. Don’t let anyone kidnap you! (verse 8).
2. Don’t let anyone condemn you! (verse 16).
3. Don’t let anyone disqualify you! (verse 18).
The second and third warnings come later in the so let’s just focus on the first.
Someone is out to capture the Colossians’ allegiance.
But it is worse than that.
These plausible teachers may say that they come to bring Christians new liberties but, says Paul in effect, don’t go near them if you value your spiritual freedom.
Colossians 2:8 NIVUK84
8 See to it that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Verse 8 may be analysed in this way:
Visitors’ claim
To teach the full knowledge of God.
Paul’s verdict
Their claim is false.
Visitors’ claim
Their credentials are primitive tradition and spiritual authority.
Paul’s verdict
Their credentials are false.
Paul then gives to the church at Colossae (and therefore to us as part of the universal church) a valuable summary of what it means to be ‘in Christ’.
Fullness in Christ (vv 9-10)
Fellowship with Christ (vv 11-12)
Freedom through Christ (vv 13-15)
Essentially what Paul wants the Christians in Colossae and at St Andrew’s to know is:
(i) United with Christ, believers now share in all that he has won.
(ii) In Christ, believers now have all that can be theirs in this world.
Did you notice what, through faith, we already have in Christ
1. Fullness in Christ (verses 9–10)
In him, in Christ Paul teaches - all that deity means is now dwelling!
Think for a moment of what deity does mean to the Christian mind. It means the ‘Creator, who is blessed for ever’. It means the great ‘I am’. It means the ‘only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality’.
With such titles in mind, consider again the scope of the words, ‘the whole fullness of deity’. And then recognize, that this fullness of Godhead dwells in Christ.
And then - get this:
Colossians 2:10 NIVUK84
10 and you have been given fulness in Christ, who is the Head over every power and authority.
Paul writes: ‘You have come to fullness of life in him.’
You have come.
Yes, notice present tense. Such fullness is not for future attainment.
Fullness of life. The emphasis on ‘fullness’ in these two verses may well mean that this was the very terminology of the visitors.
In him! Here is the sole place of full divine blessing, for it is here alone that God has fully given himself to us.
So Paul will not have ‘fullness’ taken away from Christ, or from his people.
Has someone come to Christ for salvation?
Then he has found in the Lord fullness of life. This is the apostolic language.
Not only so, but the believer already shares Christ’s victory over sin and death.
2. Fellowship with Christ (verses 11–12)
Notice what Paul stresses: in your conversion/ symbolised through baptism, you were ‘circumcised’, you were ‘buried’ with Christ, you were ‘raised’ with him.
All this lies in the past.
Paul is teaching the Christians to recognize the greatest miracle whereby sinful people are brought to reconciliation, forgiveness, and new birth.
The immensity of that change from darkness to light is constantly spoken of in this letter (1:13, 21, 22; 2:13; 3:10, 12).
Nothing that God does for a Christian after conversion is comparable to this.
Of course, one day the Christian will share still more of the resurrection power of God when he is ‘raised incorruptible’ on the last day. But that is not an experience in this life, which is Paul’s interest here.
True freedom is available now:
Colossians 2:14 NIVUK84
14 having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
Spiritual wealth, spiritual growth, fullness is found in Christ alone.
Colossians 3:1 NIVUK84
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
When other desires in our hearts start to rule us,
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