Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting from Captivity to the Cross
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Colossians 2:4-15 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: For those of you familiar with anything written by the Apostle Paul, what I am going to share will come as no surprise. For those new to the writings of the Apostle Paul, it will likely take you by surprise. Everything in this letter so far has been beautiful and inspiring—but it was simply the introduction. It is hard to believe that in such a short letter a writer would devote so many words to the introduction. (A high school or college teacher would take points off!) But this introduction provides a concrete foundation for what Paul believes—namely, that Jesus is all sufficient and all supreme. Why does that matter? It mattered at the birth of Christianity and it matters at the frontline of Christianity today. Paul writes:
I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. (Colossians 2:4, ESV)
Paul felt he needed to be engaged with the early Christians. He wanted them to remember where their faith came from. We need constant reminders, too. We can easily forget, even the things that are very important to us. Humans have a long history of “out of sight, out of mind.” Maybe you have heard other ways of describing this phenomenon, such as: ignoring, avoiding, forgetting, being under pressure, being too busy—basically any excuse that we use to avoid engaging in community. Paul was reminding the people of the Colossian church why belonging to Jesus and each other is so critical to their present and future.
As I worked on writing the Daily Walk for this week, I remembered that I had received a text from a friend of mine at Boulder Church, Mary Lou, simply checking up on how I was doing with the transition to my new job. I had not replied in three weeks. The text sat there, coming to mind often, but somehow I hadn’t managed to dash off a reply. Out of sight, out of mind? Forgetful? Busy? The excuses are long. They are all just that—excuses. Three weeks to reply to a simple text—there is no excuse. What was I avoiding? Honestly, I did not know how to answer. Mary Lou is just one example of many who are part of my community to whom I have not replied, pushing off my response to another time. It is complicated. I love every single day of my new role. It is adapting as fast as my imagination will allow. That means a lot of change. Yet we all need community. We need to find ways to connect and reconnect.
Recalibrate: How do you avoid the problem of “out of sight, out of mind?” How do you stay engaged with those you know and love around the planet? Can you use the same strategies to stay connected with Jesus?
Respond: Thank Jesus for His patience and call on your life to reconnect.
Research: Read Jeremiah 29-31. What does that teach you about reconnecting?
Remember: “Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught. And always be thankful” (Colossians 2:7, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
The Words to Remember this week are, “Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught. And always be thankful” (Colossians 2:7, ICB). With your child, put the emphasis on strength and thankfulness this week. Every time you say “strong in the faith,” flex your muscles like a bodybuilder. Encourage your child to do the same. When you say the words “always be thankful,” press your palms together in a prayerful pose. Show you child how it is done. No matter how you are feeling today, know that it is Jesus in us who is strong and for that we are very thankful.
The Words to Remember this week are, “Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught. And always be thankful” (Colossians 2:7, ICB). How strong are you? Can you feel the muscles in your arms and legs? The more we use these muscles the stronger they will get, most of the time. Our muscles and bones work together so we can move, most of the time. I am so thankful that I can move. I have a friend called Susan. She cannot move around and is in a wheelchair. When I spend time with her, I see someone who is faithful, cheerful, and thankful even though she is hurting. Susan demonstrates what the Words to Remember are telling us. She is strong in the faith. Susan knows that Jesus is her strength. She is thankful. Susan knows that God’s plans for her are good and will be good for ever and ever.
I remember really enjoying the show Mythbusters when it was still on the Discovery Channel. If you’re not familiar, the duo of Jamie and Adam would attempt to take common myths, tall tales, and wives’ tales and put them to real world tests. For example, have you ever wondered where the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” comes from? Well, the MythBusters put it to the test by trying to get an old and seasoned guard dog to not attack an “intruder” using all sorts of commonly believed tactics. For example, they tried to tempt the dog to leave the test dummy, Kari, alone by placing a piece of raw steak between the dog and Kari. And you know what? It worked!
Kind of . . .
At first, the dog jumped all over the meat (because obviously) and devoured the whole thing! But the problem with this type of temptation is that it doesn’t last forever. And as soon as the steak was gone, the dog went back to his first objective. Just like that, the steak and Kari were both stuck in the teeth of that old guard dog!
Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Paul uses this same word in Colossians 2:4. He is warning the people not to be deceived by those who bring “plausible” arguments. The goal isn’t to simply be won over by the logic of the teachers, it’s not to be enticed by something that works in the short term, it’s not to be distracted by something tangible that disappears after time. The goal is to learn an entirely new way of living. Paul says a life lived with Jesus turns an old dog into a new one! No tricks!
Sure it’s plausible to learn to be a better person if you eat a healthier diet, or decide not to fill your body with poison, or join a church. Can you learn some new tricks? Sure. But the goal is more than that. It’s to be transformed permanently by the love of Jesus!
What are some myths you think are plausible? Is the idea that allowing God into your heart transforms your nature one of them? What do you think that means? How do you think it would work if you put it to the test?
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:6-7). As you live in Jesus, you will be strengthened through your faith, and thankfulness will naturally result. Thankfulness is a byproduct of joy. With the strength you have in Him, you will live joyfully thankful.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.