Over the past little while, we’ve been working through Colossians chapter one.
Today, we will be concluding this chapter. This Colossians series really started with a re-focus on our mission statement as a church, based on the theme of Colossians, which is “To Present Everyone Complete in Christ.” Today, we’re going to almost come full circle, back to our mission of presenting everyone complete.
Last week, we focused on suffering for the cause of Christ. Specifically, the physical persecution that Paul and so many others believers throughout history and around the world have suffered for the Gospel and the growth of the church. We looked at some verified accounts of Believers who have experienced terrible hardships, because they chose to share their faith in an area of the world that does not allow that freedom.
In this letter to the Colossians, Paul, who has endured great suffering for Christ, is writing to a church who is struggling with false doctrine. However, this church has not yet experienced the persecution that was taking place in other areas of the modern world.
Personally, I feel that this is a fitting to recall on this 4th of July weekend, since in this Nation the church lives with rights and freedoms that allow us to share our faith without fear of physical harm. Perhaps, since we don’t experience such an abundance of physical suffering for our faith, we could focus today on striving for our faith.
“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” (Col. 1:28-29 ~ NASB)
As we’ve established throughout this series, the theme of Colossians is “Complete In Christ.” These two verses that conclude the first chapter clearly indicate Paul’s goal. Today, I’d like us to look at Paul’s striving. Specifically, (1) how did he strive and (2) for whom and by whose power did he strive? In turn, I hope that we establish (1) how we should strive, (2) for whom and by whose power should we strive.
Striving: How? To begin how did Paul strive, let’s get a good understanding of what this word “striving” really means in this context. Some translations state “strenuously content” or “struggle.” Others may read “toil” or “working hard.”
Some definitions would include “to exert oneself vigorously,” “to make strenuous efforts toward a goal” or “to contend in opposition.” If you haven’t got the message already, this striving word hasn’t changed much since the Colossians’ day. To them and us, it is clear that Paul is talking about some hard work!
Paul states that he is striving, laboring and/or strenuously contending for this goal to present everyone complete in Christ. But look at how Paul is striving. If we look at verse 28, Paul states by the proclamation of Christ, but also the admonishment and teaching of everyone. So, Paul strives to proclaim Jesus, admonish and teach with all wisdom.
To begin with Paul striving to proclaim Christ, I believe it’s clear from Scripture that this meant to the saved and unsaved. At the point he’s writing this letter, he’s imprisoned in Rome for proclaim Christ to the unsaved. However, the letter itself is a proclamation of Christ to the Colossian church (or the saved).
Also within this letter, there is teaching which we understand from all Paul’s letters that he was a teacher for Christ. However, let’s camp at admonishment for a moment. Perhaps, some of you may remember me defining “admonish” during the Mission Statement message. However, here is a quick definition. To admonish someone, means one would caution them, advise them or counsel them against something.
Furthermore, to reprove or scold someone with good-willed intent. Lastly, to call someone to duty. As well as proclaiming Jesus Christ and teaching with all wisdom, part of Paul’s striving is to have some “come to Jesus” meetings on a regular basis.
So what does this mean for us? Our ‘how’ is no different from Paul’s. We must continue to “proclaim Christ” throughout our daily lives and our ministries in the church. We need to be evangelizing by talking to people each and every day, about what Christ has done in your life!
Think about the time you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. How many unsaved people have we told that story to versus how many people have we told about our spouses and our kids? That’s a problem. We need to proclaim Christ!
What about missions, outreach and service? Are we personally and as a congregation fulfilling our role as support to our missionaries? Are we personally and as a congregation assisting our local community in some way that proclaims Christ as Lord of our lives?
Moving onto teaching and admonishing, are we spending significant time teaching Biblical principles and rebuking ungodly behaviors within our households? And this isn’t like a set Bible story time. That’s great, but I’m talking about modeling and interacting with our spouses and children in Christ-centered word and deed, so that our families are brought closer to Him.
What about our Christian friends? Do we spend all our time teaching each other fishing tips or can we actually get down to iron sharpening iron, discussing Biblical principles? Are we meeting for accountability with brothers and sisters who are willing to ask us the tough questions? When we see a brother or sister who is truly heading down a wrong path, do we love them enough to call them back to their mission as a Believer?
Lastly, in the church, to whom are we investing our wisdom? Who are we mentoring or discipling? Have we followed the Western consumer church trend into this strange new orthodoxy, where we accept the Word that is given in Sunday School or Worship Service, but then never offer the local body of Believers any return on that investment?
Striving: Whom? As we move on to for whom did Paul strive and by whose power, we need to read our passage again. “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.”
Paul is so clear here that the people who are impacted through his proclamation, teaching and admonishing are actually the gravy. The real meat and potatoes of it is for Christ. For Christ’s glory and for Christ’s purpose through Christ’s power which is so mighty that Paul cannot resist but to proclaim, teach and admonish.
Paul couldn’t resist! He was so entrenched in Christ’s love, power and glory that he couldn’t stop himself from proclaiming, teaching and admonishing! And that’s really what this is all about! Getting so enveloped in Christ that we can’t help but to proclaim Him, teach about Him and admonish each other for Him.
We need to take a deep, hard look inside ourselves and get to some honesty. Realize that I am speaking to myself as much as I am speaking to you. If we have absolutely no desire to strive whatsoever, if we feel no compulsion to proclaim Christ, teach or admonish each other in any way, we have got some serious work to do in our hearts.
You see, Paul strived for Christ and by His power, because Paul knew Christ personally and intimately. Christ was Lord over everything he was and everything he cared for. For us, worst case scenario is that we don’t even truly know who Jesus is.
Perhaps, we know Jesus but it has been a long time since we listening to what He was telling us to do. We’ve forgotten what even feels like to strive for Him and with His power.
If you have an inability to strive, because you do not know Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Savior, I tell you the truth that He wants to be a part of your life today. There is so much striving, proclamation, teaching and admonishing that He has for you and it will change your world!
For those of you like me, who’ve perhaps lost sight of the for whom and by whose power we strive, we can get that back. We can recommit our lives to Him, get together with an pastor this week, and start setting some goals to proclaim, teach and admonish to fullest extent.
What comes to mind when you consider “striving to present everyone complete?“