Today we are talking more about community and how we can help each other to grow. That is what a community is all about. Helping everyone in the group get better together. Community is about creating a win-win situation. Proclaiming over and over, by our words and our actions, “we are in this together.”
Our Text this morning is from Colossians 3
The first thing we need to remember according to Paul is that we have a model for what Christian community is and that is Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Father in heaven. The model of community is the Trinity some might say. And Christ’s life on earth was a model as well of who we are be together and so we need to look up heavenwards towards something better. We also look up to Jesus like we might look up to a football star, politician or business person that we would like to live like.
So we look up. To a better model than we have around us here on earth. The reason that Christian community is possible is because we all decide together to look to Christ as our example. We agree together to live a Christ centered life.Cesar Garcia video
This guy has problems forgetting and so has some creative ideas on how he might work at that. It is so easy to forget, even important things are sometimes forgotten because of business. So one of the things a community of faith does to help each other grow is to remember together and for each other.
One of the greatest gifts we can give to new people as they come into a community of faith is to remember, in front of these new people, who we were. It tells them we are not as perfect as they might think. That we too were like them once upon a time but that with God’s grace we have grown.Story of monk being asked to pray.So we remember who we were and then name together who we are now, “we are the redeemed of Christ!”
Next we choose together. To grow we need help and support and so we need to talk about who we want to become together and what that might look like. To grow together we need to know where we are and then agree together where we are heading and what behaviorally that will look like when we get there. That is why we are having the town meeting on Feb 12 and then are going to be visitng the SSC as MC_USA delegates, elders and council. To talk about where we are as a church and where we want to go so that we can choose together how to try and get there at the vision meeting in April.We have not become everything God created us to be yet as a church. Neither had the church in Colossae.
So Paul says, “Ok you have come a long way but there are still a few things you need to tend to really display the glory of God in the world as a Christian Community.” You need to agree together to behave together in certain ways or else the people looking in won’t notice God among you. For this group in Colossae they were that were angry, mean, and vindictive people with dirty language. So Paul says, “Ok you want to display Christ in your community? Then these are a few behavioral things (not belief things) that you need to work on together.”Now we might not need to work on these. But we still can apply what Paul is saying here by doing two things.
Truth is the foundation of human relationships and healthy community. You cannot build community on lies about ourselves or about what is happening in the community. So Paul says to Christians, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
So Paul tells them to start practicing truth telling as a Christian community. They are to recognize that we are not there yet and that we are together on a journey. We speak the truth about where we are on the journey. We use renewal language openly to each other; which is both now (I am better) and not yet (I still need work) speech.This kind of truth telling offers hope to the hopeless and gives entrance into the community for people who need to grow as well.Friends we can only be accused of being hypocrites if we pretend to be something we are not. So we need to practice truth telling in open and honest ways.
People grow in an environment where they feel loved and accepted for who they are. Nobody feels good if they are loved based on conditions. If you do this or that then we will love you. Which leads us to the next way we help each other grow. We accept each other for who we are. No matter whether you are a monkey or a dove there is a place for you here. And you will be loved for who you are. As Christians we are called to accept each other.
What are the reasons?
We help each other to grow by wearing the clothing that the King has given us as princes and princesses. In a sense we are to play dress up with each other. And as we play dress up we also grow up into the image of Christ.
Interesting language, dress UP. Sort of ties into the first thing we learned that we look UP. Seeing the image of God we seek to model that. Now seeing the image of Christ we try to put on the clothing (the lifestyle) of Jesus. So we dress UP. Maybe this is why we dress up for church. To symbolize this in some way.
To grow in community we all pitch in with one another around a common goal. Here it is to continue the ministry of Jesus and to bring about kingdom growth in numbers and in maturity. To do that we must forbear and forgive one another.
This does not mean what you may have always understood it to mean. Forbear here does not mean “to put up with each other”Forgive does not mean to look over another's sinful behavior
Love is the defining ethic of Christian community. It is the glue that holds all this together. WE love God. WE love each other.
Helping each other grow
Colossians 3:1-14 Helping each other Grow
Look UP • We all look to Christ as our example – Christ-centeredness – We have an end in mind – We say, “This is God’s idea!” – Journey together towards who we will be1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts onthings above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Setyour minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For youdied, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 WhenChrist, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him
REMEMBER • Who we were • Name together who we now are – We are somewhat redeemed5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which isidolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.7 You usedto walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
CHOOSE TOGETHER • Make behavior choices together as a community • Then encourage each other towards them8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these:anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
SPEAK THE TRUTH• We have not arrived• But we are on a journey• We use renewal language openly to each other Both now “I am better” And not yet “I still need work”
ACCEPT EACH OTHER • We accept each other based on our common relationship with Jesus • Not our socio-economic- racial-cultural status11Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Dress UP • We embrace our chosen-ness • “Wear” it with graciousness12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clotheyourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness andpatience.
FOR-BEAR & FOR-GIVE • We bear (anechō) with – hold each other up or pull the cart to the market together • We forgive (charizomai) – do favors for each other13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has agrievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
LOVE • We choose to love14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them alltogether in perfect unity.