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 New Testament for Everyone (NTE). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I belong. You belong. We belong. This is essential for us—a sense of belonging. I have, on more than one occasion, turned up to events, parties, clubs, or meetings and been asked what I was doing there. As an individual who likes to follow social etiquette and protocol, I can tell you that it has been difficult to feel like an interloper. Today, of course, these experiences are amazing illustrations stored up for dinner conversations, sermons, and the Daily Walk. Let me share just one that I totally goofed over.
It was back in the late 1970s. My mother, whom I love dearly, had only immigrated to England in the 1960s. She came from a place where it was expected that one dress up to attend a birthday party. It was a sign of respect. A friend had invited me to his birthday party; it was the first time I had ever gone to a birthday party outside of one thrown by my large extended family. The day arrived and I stepped out the house to enter the Mini Cooper at the end of the driveway to be whisked away to McDonald’s birthday party. Something inside me instinctively knew the outfit my mother had insisted I wear was not quite right. Yet I went along with it, and what exactly was I wearing? Well, I had just been a pageboy for my uncle's wedding and the fashion at the time was the velvet suit. That is what I stepped out of my house wearing. A shiny, dark blue velvet suit. All the other kids were wearing t-shirts and bell-bottom jeans. I looked like the creepy entertainment. This was probably the first of many character- building moments in my life, forcing me to persevere in places that no one else would go. To be brave.
Being a follower of Jesus at the time of Paul was difficult. Gaining acceptance from the other Christians was tricky. There was a lot of pressure to assimilate in many different ways. For some it meant circumcision. For others it meant taking on certain ceremonial practices. It might have meant worshipping angels in some quarters. Paul was encouraging the early Christians to find their roots in Jesus and not in these expectations.
Recalibrate: Being a Christian today can be hard for many reasons. What is the best way to follow Jesus? Is there a way to reclaim Christianity?
Respond: Pray about what motivates you to follow Jesus.
Research: What does John 5:39 really mean for us today?
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.
Make a game of getting dressed. With every piece of clothing that you put on say why you love it. I love my t-shirt. I love that it is soft and is easy to move in. I love my jeans, they stop my knees from getting scraped when I fall over. Sometimes we can get tangled up in our clothing, take a rest, and then try again to get dressed. Choosing to love the simple things and choosing to keep going when things get complicated makes us strong. Get dressed in love today.
Have you ever built a big tower using blocks? Try and build one today. As your tower got higher and higher did you find that it got wobbly? To build a really big tower that doesn’t get the wobbles you need a big, strong base.
Jesus’ love is our big, strong base. His love will keep us strong when life gets wobbly. Build a big base in Jesus by asking Him into every part of your life—your home life, your school life, your sports life—every part of your life. Jesus builds amazing things, let Him build something amazing in you.
Have you heard the expression “wolf in sheep’s clothing”? It refers to the idea that sometimes, people can put on a costume to make you think they are something they really aren’t. In this case, the goal is to make it look like they are friends when actually they are enemies who have come to hurt you.
Paul addresses the identity of the wolves in the time of the Colossians when he talks about things that have “the appearance of wisdom” (Colossians 2:23). Here, Paul urges the people to look closely at the things they are being taught. Does the sheep have a long snout and sharp teeth? Does the sheep have a long tail with dark fur? Does the sheep have yellow eyes and long claws? If the sheep has any of these things, then maybe you should compare it to other sheep in the pasture. No real sheep I’ve ever seen has any of those characteristics. Which means it’s probably not really a sheep.
Paul wants you to do the same thing as you look at the things you’re learning. Do the things you’re hearing match up with what Jesus says in the Bible? Does it sound like they are trying to get you to be more forgiving or loving? Does it sound like they are trying to be humble? Do they try to tell you how to be more like Jesus each day? If not, then maybe this isn’t helping you get closer to Jesus. Maybe, it’s an enemy hiding in Jesus’ clothing . . .
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2). This is such important advice. Set your hearts on things above. Desire the things that will surpass this world—things that will last you for the entirety of this life but also beyond. Set your minds on things above—things that will keep you in perfect peace and contentment. By beholding we become changed, so turn your eyes on Jesus. And keep them there so He will keep you in peace.
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.