Colossians was written by Paul the apostle to address syncretism. The Roman Empire ruled the known world for 1,500 years. Rome ruled England to India for 1,500 years in relative peace. They stabilized the world. They brought law and order, roads, and urban centers. Different religions and different lifestyles created a melting pot of ideas.
Paul identifies syncretism and exalts the supremacy? of Christ in the first two chapters of the book. USA Today and The Wall Street Journal articles discuss the rise of “false Christianity.” Of the Christians surveyed, 65% rarely or never pray with others. 38% almost never pray by themselves.
Follow me here: 38% of the people that proclaim to be Christians don’t talk to Him. The assumption is that you can be a Christian without knowing Jesus Christ! That’s an absurd but popular notion. 65% of the Christians surveyed rarely or never attend any type of worship gathering. 67% don’t read the Bible. 50% are unsure of whether or not Jesus is the only path to God. 68% did not mention faith, religion, spirituality or Jesus Christ when asked what was really important in life. 50% do not attend church at least weekly. So bare bones minimum is Sunday morning attendance is nominal, at best.
Self-proclaimed Christians say, “I love Jesus. I don’t pray, I don’t read anything about Him and I never go to church, but I’m a Christian.” All right. Why? “Because I’m an American. I guess…I don’t know.” Only 40% of Evangelicals polled believe it’s their responsibility to share the gospel with neighbors, coworkers and friends. In the past, people went to church to better their business or attended so they could look like upstanding, upright citizens. That’s not the case anymore. Living a secular lifestyle is considered the norm.
Paul writes that when Christ enters your heart, when the Holy Spirit enters your soul, He changes you. Paul also warns of the opposite trend of sectarianism. Sectarianism means we completely from culture. Sectarianism withdraws from the world from fear of contamination. Fearful Christians build a fortress around themselves and don’t really let anyone in. They are self-righteous and stubborn. They don’t want to associate with anyone who doesn’t believe like they believe.
Paul gives us three ways that we relate to our non-Christian friends and secular culture. In Colossians 4:5, he writes “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders.”
So let me give you nine questions I think you should ask. I’m pulling all nine of these questions from Mark Driscoll’s book, Radical Reformission. Here are nine questions he says we should ask in regards to our activities, whether that be our finances, whether that be our hobbies, whether that what we do on Friday night. Okay, here they are:
- Is it beneficial to me personally and the gospel generally? You and I are gospel people. If we’re believers in Christ, we see through the lenses of God’s grace and mercy given to us in Jesus Christ. So we see the world through those lenses. Is what you’re doing beneficial to you individually in regards to the gospel, and is it beneficial to the gospel in general?
- Do I, by my decisions, make God look glorious and beautiful or do I in turn slander and belittle His name?
- Will I lose self-control and be mastered by what I participate in?
- Will I be doing this in front of someone who will fall into sin because of my behaviors or attitudes?
- Is it a violation of the law? (Speeding is included!)
- If I do this, will I lose opportunity to share the gospel?
- Am I doing this to help others or am I being selfish?
- Can I do this in a way that can glorify God?
- Am I following the example of Jesus to help sinners reconcile to God?
Paul says to the Corinthians, “When I came to you, I did not come with wise and persuasive words but a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” He professed Jesus Christ and Him crucified for sins. The Holy Spirit working through his authentic faith drew men to Himself. So here’s what you need to do: lose confidence in you and gain confidence in Him. Stop reading the Bible like it’s the newspaper. Every morning look for a simple truth that you can meditate on all day and watch God’s activity in your life.
So Paul’s saying, “The quickest way to exalt God with your mouth is to love Him with your heart.” Otherwise you’re just pretending.
Taken from Matt Chandler’s sermon at The Village Church. http://www.thevillagechurch.net. Used by permission.