Monday, March 8, 2010

Adults Only

"Adults Only"

Colossians 3:1-17

Pastor Tom Millner

SpiritSong Worship Center

March 7, 2010


A thief entered the apartment of a famous French novelist in the dead of the night. The thief was ever so quiet as he wrestled with the key to the novelist's desk. Suddenly, silence was broken by the sarcastic laugh of the novelist who lay nearby in his bed. The thief asked; "why do you laugh?" "I laugh" said the novelist, "because of the risks you take to find money in a desk by night when the legal owner can find none during the daylight."

The title of this sermon is intentional. In today's world such a title conjures up in many the thoughts of the forbidden, what's done in secret, in the dark. We see marquees along Federal Highway or Wilton Drive notifying the passer-by that the establishment is for "Adults Only." Recently a man was driving by one of these places when his eight year old niece asked; "what does the sign adults only mean?" The man paused as he thought of how he was going to respond. Then the man decided to tell his niece the truth: "That's a place where grownups go to behave like children." Isn't it interesting that children like to pretend to act grown up while grownups tend to act like children? Paul's letter to the Colossians, written while he was imprisoned in Rome, was addressing many of the foolish ways humans, when seeking their own way, miss the point of Christ's love.

Last week we addressed the issue of preparation for REVIVAL; becoming alive again in the knowledge and power of Jesus Christ in our lives. If REVIVAL is to happen in this community, it must begin in me and you. In many public places today we see what I call electronic defibrillating devices. If someone drops unconscious with no pulse, these devices can be used to "shock" the heart back into action. The person is thus revived. It's time we got a little stimulus to get us back to life – our REAL life in Christ!

When Jesus was questioned (being given what they thought was a trick question) by the Pharisees as to what was the greatest commandment, He responded by stating (Matthew 22:37-40) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Paul in his letter to the Colossians spelled out in chapters one and two what Christ has accomplished for our sakes and WHO he is as Lord and Savior. It's no coincidence that Paul would emphasize the heart and the mind when challenging the believers in chapter three. Listen to what he says; "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. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." When Paul says "set" here, the word means our every intention – effort, energy. Paul is not saying here (any more than Jesus was saying) to attend to God when you remember or when you are feeling in the mood from something that may have touched your emotions. Love of God demands our full attention – mind and heart – set on the man, Jesus! And in so doing, we "put to death" whatever belongs to our earthly nature. Paul spelled out what some of those earthly nature things were during his time – "sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." How many of you got stuck on "sexual immorality" and "lust"? They are not the point – idolatry is the point - it is the evil from which all sin arises. Idolatry is anything we place before God. Want to see where your god lives in your life? Look at your calendar; look at your checkbook. Listen to your brain now trying to rationalize and dispose of the discomfort that comes from a sense of guilt –something that is not accepted in today's world of self-actualizers. If your god is freedom from guilt, it can't be the God who took on our guilt so that we don't have to eternally suffer the consequences of our own selfish acts for which we are truly guilty! The answer to our problems today is not less guilt by reason of rationalization, but owning our bad and selfish behavior, resolve to turn away from it (by the grace of God) (it's called repentance) and turn our intent toward Him! Get it? Putting our minds and hearts on things above – the glory, majesty, righteousness, grace, and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, yields the consequence of freely loving others. In Paul's words "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Becoming alive in Christ is not easy. It's hard work that requires discipline – discipleship. It's not something we can do on our own – in fact, if we're trying to do it on our own; we're not worshipping Him, but rather our own desires and goals. Becoming alive in Christ is not about what we accomplish, it's about what we let go! Our very nature (the old one that Paul admonishes to put away) would have us set up rules, regulations, stipulations and conditions that would proscribe "becoming alive in Christ." By the very act of engaging them the "natural" bent is to make them the goal and Christ then becomes secondary. Paul's assertion in Colossians to such behavioral distinctions is "Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all."

Revival is not about a religion, a process, an experience, a set of behaviors – revival is about a man. His name is Jesus Christ. He is as much man as if not God at all and as much God as if not man at all. He, being God, humbled Himself to take on the form and very nature of His created being, was conceived out of wedlock, born in a barn, hob-knobbed with the rejected and outcast, was rejected by the establishment, surrendered to beatings and ultimately death on a cross, taking upon himself what is justly our pain and suffering, overcame that death to live back from where He came, thus covering every self-seeking, self-absorbed action on our part – so that we can be free to pursue living a life in His character! Revival is not about me – it is about He who is the Savior of the world. He who laid down His life for us and who asks us to lay down ours daily to discover the newness of life in Him.

Revival is not just for adults only. It's for those who want to grow up in the Lord and also for those who are willing to go to that place where they can empty themselves and be like little children before the Lord – humble, teachable, obedient and trusting. Revival is a person – Jesus Christ!!


Don't you think it's time to grow up?


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