Sermon, 7.12.09"Everyday Gospel" Rev. Erik Bonkovsky Colossians 1:1-14
What difference does Jesus make in our lives?
As Christians, we spend our time professing that our lives are better because we follow Jesus. But how are our lives any better than those of our peers? According to the book Unchristian, 85% of people think Christians are hypocrites. We're clearly not doing a very good job of showing others the difference Christ makes in our lives.
- Jesus makes a present and ongoing difference in the lives of those who believe.
Often we think of Christianity as something that happened. That accepting Christ is something that happened in our lives years ago. Or we only think of it in terms of future hope, and we look to heaven when we think about Christianity. But what about now? The nature of the gospel is that it grows and bears fruit in peoples' lives (v. 6). We can't think about it in terms of arrival, like perfection is what we're going to get as soon as we accept Christ. Instead our areas of weakness are continually revealed to us so that we can continue to grow and bear fruit. So rather than something that happened or will happen, Christianity is a process.
It's easy to get swept up in "kiddie pool Christianity," where you don't have to know how to swim and you can just wade in as far as is comfortable for you. We naturally want to keep things simple, on a one-dimensional plane where we don't have to think too hard about things or examine ourselves in too much detail. The true purpose of Christianity is more like jumping into a river, where you must learn to swim in order to stay afloat. Your "walk" (v.10) and "every good work," meaning your daily lifestyle, is what's important. Everything is spiritual.
- Jesus makes a difference in forgiveness.
How do we define Christians? Christians are people who are forgiven and are forgivers. We are told not only that we were forgiven once and for all, but that we must forgive others and forgive ourselves. And we get to experience this forgiveness again and again, as a daily exercise and part of this larger process that we call Christianity. And this lifestyle of humility that being forgiven produces should lead to a life free of this sense of entitlement that most people have, and free from the bitterness that comes from feeling a sense of entitlement.
- Jesus makes a difference in our kingdom.
What does "kingdom" really mean? It's the concept of where we get our identity. It's what tells us who we are. Right now, what is it that's telling you who you are? Are you a part of the kingdom of stuff, or of cool, or of connections? All of these things will disappoint you or will disappear. We often try to live in a kingdom of performance with God, where we believe that our salvation depends upon our performance. But it's not about performance, it's about the assurance of being loved no matter what. And we get our identity from knowing that Christ did it all for us without the guarantee of any such performance.