Life in a post modern world poses several challenges to Christians such as conflicting world views, pluralism, selfish political agendas, compromising churches, worldly Christians, unbiblical political leadership, a hedonistic and Harry Potter culture. In an interview on Christian world view Ravi Zacharias the world renowned Christian apologist was asked, about the uniqueness of Christianity.
What made Ravi Zacharias an Indian-born, grown up steeped in Hinduism so convincing while many western theologians compromise? Is it his intellect or his firm belief in Christ? When we are faced with challenges for our faith how can we hold on to our Christian world view while fighting unbiblical and ungodly world views? Is this a new challenge for Christians of our time? No, the early Church in the first century too came under severe attack from heretics and skeptics. God is looking for an army of people who could stand up for Him and fight the enemy. How can we fight this battle for truth, yet remain compassionate towards people from other world views? In his letter to the Church in Colossae, the apostle Paul cleverly combats then existing heresies not by attacking them viciously but by highlighting the Supremacy of Christ and by laying down ground rules for wholesome Christian living. Let’s read Colossians 1:1-2.
I believe this short letter of Paul contains some valuable truths pertaining to our Christian living. A bit of background information will help us appreciate Colossians better. The very beginning of the letter suggests that it was written by none other than Paul. At the time of it’s writing in 62 AD Paul was a prisoner in
A. PERSONAL GREETINGS :(
Personal letters usually begins somewhat like: “Dear Martha, and ends with love or sincerely John” We write the date on the top right, sometimes we add P.S after the signature; we put it in the envelope, write the recipient’s and the senders address on the outside. That is pretty much the standard every where. Like wise, “The New Testament letters that were written by and/or attributed to Paul and the other Apostles usually follow the standard expectations of their day says, one New Testament scholar.” Paul starts by saying “an apostle of Jesus Christ” shows that Paul was very Christ centered. The main theme of Colossians is Christ, the title “Christ” appears twenty six times. Paul greets the believers as saints (Holy) and faithful. Because of Christ’s substitutionary death and the work of the Holy Spirit they were not only declared but are continuing to be made holy and faithful in their lives as they were obedient to the truth.
It is interesting to observe that in all his thirteen letters Paul’s greetings contain two words, Grace (in Greek Chaires) and Peace (in Hebrew Shalom). What does this say about his readers? They were from both Jewish and Greek backgrounds. If Paul were to write a letter to our Church how would he address our congregation? Would he address us saying, “You bunch of idiots and hypocrites”? No! He would write, “I Paul, to the saints (holy ones) and faithful brethren in Christ who are at ECCOA, Grace and Peace from God our father. Are you surprised to know that you are a saint and you are faithful? When we look at ourselves we tend to have a poor and negative self image, but God sees us as holy and faithful not because of what we have done but because of what Christ has done and is continuing to do for us. What is being Holy?
When we hear the word holy we are frightened thinking that we can never reach that high standard. The word holy both in Hebrew and Greek means set apart, sanctified, or consecrated. Its fundamental idea is separation for the purpose and the service of God. In the OT the both the tabernacle and the temple were meticulously built. They were set aside for only one purpose that was for the presence of God to dwell. Nothing impure was used while constructing and nothing impure will enter into the place where God dwelt. The history of Israel tells us that due to their the glory of God (His presence) left the temple once, returned once, left again but never returned until Jesus surfaced on the earth many centuries latter.(Ezekiel 10)
When Jesus came to earth, it was like as if the presence of God came back to earth this time in human form. In John 1:14, “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The Greek for “made his dwelling” literally means tabernacled. This verse would have reminded John’s Jewish readers of the Tent of Meeting, which was filled with the Glory of God in the form of a cloud.(Ex 40:34-35). Jesus, made references himself being the
In the OT the presence of God dwelt in the tabernacle and temple, in the NT the presence of God dwelt in human form in Jesus, but where does God’s glory dwell now in the 21st century? Is it in this building or the house of the Lord as we call it? The answer is Yes and No. Yes in a way every time when we God’s people come together to worship Him we feel his presence filling this place, as promised in Matt 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst, (in that place), but just as a stone structure in itself, this place is no different from any other place. Then where does God’s presence really dwell or who becomes the carrier of God’s presence?
The best analogy that Paul gives in describing God’s people is a temple. I Cor 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple (lit Sanctuary) of God that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the
What does this all practically mean for us today? If our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then can we destroy our bodies, by doing so destroying the
It is an awesome privilege to be called “Holy” or set apart, but along with that comes incredible responsibility to keep this temple of God Holy and pure so that his presence can continue to dwell in us. In Cor 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you whom you have from God and that you are not own? For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.” This scripture tells us a few things, firstly, let’s not forget that our body is God’s temple in which His Holy Spirit dwells. Secondly, our body is not our own we have been bought with a price which is the blood of Christ. In other words we are not the owners but stewards of our bodies. Thirdly, we are to bring pleasure to God or glorify him in our body, this is not a suggestion or a good idea but a command. In other words we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God.
What hinders us from glorifying God in our bodies? It is SIN. We may give all kinds of definitions of sin but in reality sin is nothing but disobeying God’s commandments. It is going against God’s will. How does sin enter our lives? It enters little by little; when we don’t deal with little sins in the end they have the potential to destroy our lives.
God wants to spare us from the effects of sin that is why he gave us boundaries not to cross but if we willingly cross them and sin then we hurt ourselves, just like when we put our hand in the fire it burns. On the other hand when we obey God’s commandments and learn to honor God in our bodies then we become God’s dwelling place and his presence will remain with us. The sins of our past is now behind us. We want nothing to do with that kind of a lifestyle anymore now that we are called holy. We now desire to know Christ, we will continue to press in to know Him as we study Paul’s letter to the Colossians. To know Him, is to love Him, to love Him is to obey Him! Amen