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 International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: There is this great moment in the book of Acts, when Luke, the author, tells us that what made these particular followers of Jesus stand out was Jesus Himself!
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13, ESV)
What a great description. What a great moment—and captured so well. This kind of impact is only possible when we reflect Jesus. Not when we try to be that special, perfect person, but simply when we stay in Jesus. It can’t be false. It can’t be generated through a sheer act of will or forced in any way. It simply happens when we are living in Jesus.
What does living in Jesus look like? For Paul, it meant freedom from the shackles of failed expectations. It was a strong reminder that we all live by grace. Extending grace to one another would make for an attractive Jesus-centered community. Recall Paul’s own journey. He understood the joy of transformation. He knew it came not by his sheer will power but by accepting Jesus in his life. The change that took place for him was from the inside out. That is what made the difference. That is what made it last. We can seem like we have it together or we can actually have it together because we trust Jesus through the good times and the not so good times, knowing all is well.
Richard J. Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline, has been quoted several times as follows:
The contrast between God’s way of doing things and our way is never more acute than in this area of human change and transformation. We focus on specific actions; God focuses on us. We work from the outside in; God works from the inside out. We try; God transforms.
Ellen White, one of the co-founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, sharing some powerful insights through the story of Elisha, taught that it is from the inside out that change takes place. She wrote:
To the heart that has become purified, all is changed. Transformation of character is the testimony to the world of an indwelling Christ. The Spirit of God produces a new life in the soul, bringing the thoughts and desires into obedience to the will of Christ; and the inward man is renewed in the image of God. Weak and erring men and women show to the world that the redeeming power of grace can cause the faulty character to develop into symmetry and abundant fruitfulness. (Prophets and Kings, p. 233)
Recalibrate: What is the difference between character and personality? How do we shape the development of character?
Respond: Pray for space to grow in Jesus.
Research: Read David Brooks’ book The Road to Character.
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, gather all their favorite things and play together. You may be building homes with Duplo or healing the sick with your doctor’s kit. Whatever you are doing, the joy does not come from the inanimate plastic or stuffed toy you are playing with. The joy comes from loving the one you are playing with. Jesus wants to play every day with us; no matter what our life has gathered together, He knows how to make something beautiful out of our stuff.
Do you have a wardrobe or a set of drawers with your clothes inside? Are your clothes hanging up or folded neatly, or do they end up on the floor like they do at my house? Clothes are made to be worn. We put them on the outside of our bodies to protect them from the sun and the cold and from being hurt. Our clothes do nothing until we put them on. Our bodies give the clothes shape. It is when we put our clothes on that we can see what the clothes are supposed to do. When we choose to love Jesus, our bodies, our words, and our actions show what love looks like. Wear love today from the inside out.
There is a show that used to be on TV all the time when I was growing up called The Antiques Roadshow. Every week, the Roadshow would travel to a different city and set up a space where people could come in with the things that they had been given by their family members, or found at a garage sale, or simply discovered in a hidden chest up in the attic. Believing that they possessed something of great worth, they would bring their items out to the show and have their treasures inspected by professional appraisers. Every single trinket always came with a story about how the item was found and what the finder thought it might be worth. Sometimes, the item was appraised and found to be incredible and the person would discover that they possessed a multimillion dollar piece of history. But other times, people were disappointed by the reality that the item they believed was going to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams was actually fake and therefore worth nothing.
Paul talks about this in Colossians 2:23, right at the end of the verse. He says that sometimes things look as though they are worth their weight in gold, but actually are of no value. In his case, he is talking to the people of Colossae and telling them that all their efforts to make the gods happy by starving themselves to the point of sickness aren’t actually helping them with their real issue of self-indulgence. They are trying so hard to stop being reliant on themselves for salvation that they have completely relied on themselves for salvation.
The exact thing they were trying to stop doing was the thing they ended up doing. And they were stuck thinking that if they just believed a little bit more or ate just a little bit less, then they could say they were valued. But they were already valued by their Creator God! And it didn’t cost them anything or take away anything from their plate at dinner. They were valuable in their own right, so said the Great Appraiser.
And so are you.
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Through Jesus, you are free. You are dead to the miserable aspects of yourself and your life. You are free to live boldly. Your life is in Him, who never fails, so you will always have life—life in its fullness. What are some ways you can live your life to the fullest in Jesus?
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.