I sense the need to add something to my sermon and go one step farther in equipping us to handle false teaching. Our passage this morning (Colossians 2:1-15) was all about being completely satisfied in Christ in such a way that allows us to detect and reject teaching that leaves us dependent on persuasive or super-spiritual teachers, and not Christ.
“Where was God when... (enter catastrophic event here)?”
This question says as much as it asks. It suggests that the god who canprevent something awful, willalways do so. This question is often asked critically to prove god is either incapable and/or unwilling to prevent evil. This, of course, calls into question the worship, obedience, and trust in such a god. But, notice the change in tone when we ask one another the same kind of question. “Where were you when JFK was assassinated?” or “Where were you on 9/11?”We do not expect fellow finite beings to have been present, much less to have had the means by which to foil these evil-doers’ plans.God is not let off the hook so easily; we tend to expect more of Him. But His power and His concern are not so easily disproven. According to Scripture, God is simultaneously transcendent and imminent. That is, He is above all and yet near, enthroned in heaven (Psalm 2:4) while remaining providentially involved in the smallest details of human life (Col. 1:17).
10 to 12.
That’s how many dozens of baseballs are used in an average 9-inning MLB game. Once a baseball is taken out of play, it simply will not return. It may, however, be demoted to a practice ball or be sent down to the minor league system, where it will have a similar life-expectancy. Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame curve-ball pitcher, Bert Blyleven said, “We used to be fined if we threw a ball in the stands; [baseballs] were like a piece of jewelry. The game has changed.” Nowadays, it is rare for a baseball to be used for an entire at-bat, disqualified by the slightest imperfection. This is a far cry from my Little League baseball experience where snow-cone tickets incentivized the immediate return of a foul ball, without a second thought about the scuffs it received from the concrete walkways or rough red-brick walls of the concession stand.
So, you’re at the dentist. And if you’re like me, you’ve postponed the appointment at least once, and now the plan is to simply survive the scraping, scratching and stretching, and get on with your day (full disclosure: I do enjoy picking the toothpaste flavor and receiving the little blue gift bag). But I realized something recently: I can avoid most of the pain and discomfort by taking better care of my teeth between visits. What a novel idea! This conclusion is nothing new. It’s not news-worthy or surprising. So why did it take so long for so many of us to realize this? It’s not because we didn’t know better. It’s because being disciplined is hard, and if we are honest, it just wasn’t worth it before.
Have we recently pleaded with someone to repent and believe? Are we engaged in relationships where we are teaching someone how to follow Jesus? If so, praise God. Odds are, however, we could use a more robust and intentional commitment to these high callings of the Christian life – that of ambassador and disciple-maker!
On the one hand, the church is the strongest, most secure, and stable organization there is. This is simply because it is Christ’s and He has promised to build His church, guaranteeing that the very gates of hell will not prevail against it. The church of God will not be destroyed or for that matter diminished in the slightests. On the other hand, however, on the local level, the institution of the church can truly be the most volitile of organizations. Maintaining the “unity of the bond of peace” that Paul talks about takes work – hard work.
All the activities of the church are to accomplish the common goal of discipleship. This is the case whether we are evangelizing the lost in order to make disciples in the salvific sense or we are engaged in the work of sanctification of the body of Christ. While the church engages in discipleship outside its walls, our gatherings ought to be defined by discipleship. Among the things prescribed by Scripture that we do when we meet, our singing is no insignificant thing!