Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Free from the World to Make a Difference
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
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 2:16-3:4 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: As a child in England, I recall that between Sabbath School and the Worship Service, often referred to as Divine Hour, there was this fifteen-minute transition that was filled with songs and an item by the personal ministries director. Bear with me, if you have never heard of these terms. The personal ministries director was a church member who had volunteered to encourage and uplift everyone in sharing the Gospel with their friends and the wider community. My personal ministries director as a kid was Sister Esmee. Bless her heart, she was a dear. Super friendly, loving and kind. She loved people. My home church in the 1970s was just on the border of southeast London and the county of Kent. Not a large congregation. Perhaps 75-100. People loved each other. I always felt loved there.
It was during those fifteen-minute personal ministries announcement times that Sister Esmee would ask people to raise their hands if they had shared about Jesus with someone that week. If they had put any “tracts” out, also known as little pamphlets explaining something essential about the future of humanity. As I child, I noticed that those raising their hands were small in number. There was a good purpose to this practice when it first started, but later it became a competition followed by a shaming moment. Only one or two hands would go up and others would feel guilty for not meeting their witnessing quota. Some who raised their hands were super smug about their success. The practice eventually faded away in many churches.
Several practices that Paul mentions in this passage had great roots or origins. They were based on wonderful intentions and were in many cases necessary. They marked seasons and considered how people focus. They were healthy markers to raise the bar, encouraging people to do more. They served as a discipleship plan. But when they had completed their purpose others kept on using them, sometimes with less desirable outcomes. Imagine if in my childhood church, Sister Esmee had stopped doing the public appeal each week, and instead, several members would meet new people as they arrived at the door and ask if they had visited anyone sick during the past week. If they had not (most likely), they would be given the look of shame. This was Paul’s issue. Those ceremonial practices were over. Why are we still using them? he asked. Worst yet, why are we using them to shame people.
Recalibrate: How do you prove you are committed at school, work, or your local church? What “old” standards have been placed over people that hurt instead of support them? What might some motives be for using them?
Respond: Pray for abundant grace toward yourself and others.
Research: Read Matthew 20:1-16. What was Jesus sharing in this story about who decides?
Remember: “Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth” (Colossians 3:3, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
With your little one, play with spreading. Spread color all over a page. Spread your child's favorite topping all over a piece of bread. Spread soap bubbles all over your body in the bathtub. Know that God made love to be spread all over the world and He would love us, in all that we do, to spread love with Him.
Today, you have a special mission. Today, I want you to be love without using your words. How do you think you can show someone that you love them without using your words? Here are some things that might help.
We show people that we love them by being interested in who they are and what they like to do. Jesus always asked people what they wanted; we can do the same.
In a few short weeks, the NFL season begins here in the United States, and with it comes the end of pre-season training. All summer long, giant men covered in body armor have been working out in the gym, running practice drills, and getting their diets in order to be at peak physical condition in order to compete against the strongest and fastest athletes they will encounter. During this time, football players are given a coaching staff, athletic trainers, and nutritionists to help them reach all their goals before the first game. The reason for this is that football is a dangerous sport, and without the proper training, players risk a season-ending injury. As hard as it can be, most players are restricted as to how many calories they can eat each day, and what foods are good for them (and what foods they need to stay away from). Come spring, it’s bye-bye grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes, and hello protein shakes and grilled fish!
Paul addressed a similar practice in his time when talking to the Colossians (2:20). He was trying to get them to see that the way they were living just didn’t make sense to the way they used to believe. They were all baptized into God’s kingdom, which meant they were no longer living in a world where death was the end of the story for them. But now they were spending all their time trying to avoid death by following the strange requests of the teachers of Zeus who told them to become slaves to their bodies. But Paul knew that the people of Colossae were athletes! Trained to be followers of Christ who could contend with any enemy. And there they were being trained by individuals who didn’t know about nutrition but told them what to eat! Not trained in physiology but telling them how to move!
Paul tried to put an end to this by reminding the people that they were more than they were being told that they were. And he is saying the same to you today. You are more than mere onlookers to the Spirit that moves in this world. You are athletes on God’s team seeking to fight against the evils of the world, not join them. So don’t hesitate to ask questions when someone tells you the secret to your success is in the form of putting junk in your body and mind. You’re far too smart and far too strong to fall for that!
“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2:23). Like I wrote earlier this week, such human regulations are empty of any true meaning and real effect without God’s power that enables and motivates. God reaches for the heart, not outward appearances of humble dedication and self-imposed worship.
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.