Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Dressed for Abundant Living
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 3:5-17 in the New Testament for Everyone (NTE). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Paul is not afraid of stacking expectations and requests on the Colossian Church as he writes this letter. Why not? I believe it is because he knows that while they are not themselves the source of strength to achieve the tasks he outlines, they do have the ability to make the choice to love. He writes:
On top of all this you must put on love, which ties everything together and makes it complete. (Verse 14)
Love has often been thrown around as a rather glib word. It is used really easily and sometimes frivolously. It is said with sincerity and insincerity, and only the context and results can determine the depth of the meaning of that word. It is the single characteristic that we use for God—“God is love” (1 John 4:8, ESV). It is the single most positive emotive word, one that has the capacity to generate hope and move us to action. It covers every type of healthy and good relationship that has ever existed or ever will exist. For couples, for families, for parents, for siblings, for children, for friendship, for community, the list is endless. That is why Paul sees that love ties everything together.
Then, I have to ask, how is it that we withhold it?
We withhold it from our children, from our parents, from our siblings, from our partners, from our friends, from our communities, even from Jesus! We withhold it over the most trivial matters. To “live love,” to “love well,” or to “be love” are not temporary clauses in your existence—these are life. Jesus did not opt to love for a few hours and then not love for the rest of the day. Paul did not opt to love one group and not another. We are called, because we live in Jesus, to have a new life, in which we love all the time. This means loving when we face difficult people—and we all have difficult people. People who are mean to us, people who are intentionally insulting—when you encounter people like this you need to draw deeper into Jesus and ask Him for His love. We may not always respond well in the moment, but over time we will grow in Jesus and the new life He gives us will be one of deep powerful love to all humanity.
Recalibrate: Who needs your love today? Who has been showing you love that you have not returned?
Respond: Share a prayer of thanks that God first loved us.
Research: Read the whole context of 1 John 4.
Remember: “Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before” (Colossians 3:9, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
We are in the middle of winter here and need to wear a lot more clothing to keep us warm. We cannot just run outside without putting boots and a jacket on. It is always a good time to layer up in love. Cover your whole self in it. With your little one, talk about choosing to love as you pull on your child’s hat. Talk about all the kind things you can do with your hands as you use them to pull on your clothing. As you pull on your socks and shoes, talk about all the places you will go and the people you will meet together. Talk about the good things you are going to do together, fully dressed in love today.
Do you play a sport or do an activity where you need to wear special clothing? You may do bike riding where you have to wear a helmet and special shoes, or dirt bike riding were you need to wear protective armor in case you crash. I love snow skiing. When we ski as a family, we make sure to wear layers. Snuggly warm ones close to our skin and layers that keep us dry on the outside. It’s the layers working together that keep us warm so we can have heaps of fun in the snow. Love is like the snuggly warm clothes we wear close to our skin. Without love we feel cold and miserable. Make sure you have your snuggly layer of love on today and then choose to love somebody who looks like they forgot to put theirs on.
By now, many of you are already back to school and in the rhythm of waking up early and coming home with heaps of homework each night. But for a second, take yourself back to the last day of summer on the day before school started. Do you remember what you picked out to wear for that first day? Those brand new shoes still bright and shiny? Remember how you so carefully chose the shirt you would wear and how you would fix your hair? Your backpack was still fully stocked and not yet filled with crumpled up papers and crusts from and old sandwich. Your pencil case had nothing but sharp number twos and erasers without bite marks and grey streaks on top where you rubbed out wrong answers from that first quiz? Those were the days . . .
But today, well, those shoes have been stepped on a few times. And your shirt hasn’t been the same since you slid on the grass playing tag during the first week. Your hair is a little longer, and your clothes don’t always perfectly match your accessories. Things aren’t new anymore.
Paul tells the Colossians that they are to move away from their old selves and clothe themselves in a “new self in the image of the creator” (Colossians 3:9-10). Now, I’m not saying you need to go buy new clothes, but maybe it’s already time for a refresh on how excited you are to approach each day. Maybe you don’t have the same butterflies about school, but what would it take to think of yourself as new today? To get up and decide that you’re going to clothe yourself in the armor of God as you face the challenges this random Wednesday brings? How might that change how you move about the room? How you interact with your friends and teachers? Maybe today is the day you wake up and decide to be a new creation in order to help someone realize that they are valuable to Christ! What’s stopping you from giving it a try?
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14). Of all the fruits of the Spirit, it is love that binds all together and perfectly unifies. This makes sense, because God is love (1 John 4:8). God holds all things together, so love does the same. Ask Him to make you look like Him—ask Him to make you look like love.
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.