Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Colossians 1: 28-29

Day 7

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

In the section preceding this one, Paul wrote about the mystery that was now known: Christ in you, the hope of glory. He now writes about his ministry, in which his sole purpose is to proclaim the formerly mysterious messiah, Jesus Christ, to every man.

It is interesting to note just how Paul proclaims Christ. He was a great preacher; you would think that proclaiming Christ would involve a soap box, a street corner, and a crowd. While at times Paul did preach to a huge audience, this is not how he defines proclaiming Christ in this particular letter. How does he proclaim Christ? “Admonishing every man and teaching every man. . . so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” A better word for admonish would be counseling, while teaching involved instruction. Paul proclaimed Christ by encouraging each person he worked with through personal interaction and instruction to exhibit Christ in their lives. In other words, Christ is made manifest to the world through His Church. He is proclaimed every time a life is changed.

I have a friend named Mike who came to know the Lord through the ministry at Trinity Community Church. The change in him was instantaneous. He was so enthusiastic about God, his relatives started showing up on Sunday morning as well. His sister told me, “Mike was so completely transformed, we had to come here and find out what made such a drastic difference in him.” Christ was effectively proclaimed through the changed life of one He saved.

Paul’s goal was to make every man complete in Christ. The idea of being “complete in Christ” is akin to maturity. How do we as Christians get to that place, finally mature in Jesus Christ?

A look at the Greek word translated “perfect” helps us understand what Paul is saying. The word is teleios, and has a lexicon meaning of “having attained the ending or purpose; complete, full grown, mature, or adult." Philippians 1:6 tells us that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” James (1:4) wrote that the times of trials in our lives will have their “perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Becoming complete (or mature) is a process. Maturity comes through learning the Word of God and through the experience of living out its truths in our lives.

Notice also two things we learn about Paul. First, his keen sense of purpose. Paul lived each day with the goal of presenting every man complete in Christ. It is an all-encompassing goal. Included in Paul’s purpose is his dedication to bring men along from new birth to spiritual maturity.

Later in his letter, Paul urges the Colossians to make the most of every opportunity given them. This was a man who lived by that rule. Paul wrote the Colossians from Rome, where he was imprisoned. He was under house arrest, chained 24 hours a day to a member of the Praetorian Guard (kind of like the Navy Seals of the Roman army). Can you imagine being a member of that guard, chained to a man with such focused intent to bring every man to completeness in Christ? Paul wrote the Philippians that his cause had become known throughout the whole Praetorian Guard. No doubt. This was one focused guy.

The second thing we see about Paul is how he is going about accomplishing that purpose. Paul writes he is “striving according to His power, which mightily works in me.” Paul found some time ago that the key to success was total reliance on the power of the Lord. After struggling with a “thorn in the flesh,” Paul had learned the hard way how to rely on God. He wrote to the Corinthians: “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

A sense of purpose and the power to pull it off. We all need both of these things if we are to be effective in our walk with the Lord.

Could you verbalize, as Paul did, your purpose in life? Spend some time thinking about this and try to write it out in one sentence. Then pray for the power to fulfill this purpose.

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