Get Focused 6: Remember the Mission!

Colossians 3.18—4.18

This section begins with some basic household rules. Paul addresses
three groups of people: Wives (submit) and Husbands (love), Children
(obey) and Parents (don’t provoke), Slaves (obey) and Masters (treat
with justice/fairness). He gives each group instructions (see
parenthetical statements above) on how to live together in ways that
honor God.

(Note: In the sermon, I made some brief comments on this section, and
opened it up for Q&A, but quickly moved on to deal with the
remaining section of Colossians.)

Remember the Mission
The process we’re in is consuming! We’ve been in the process for some
time; intensively for the last 1.5 years. That’s okay. We have to take
the time we need.

In fact, timing is very important: we have to move slow enough that we
have time to digest/process what’s happening, and fast enough that we
don’t lose momentum/focus!

I want to begin looking ahead, beyond “the vote.” I want to prepare us
to be missional (I think I have been trying to lead us toward being
more missional all along) so that once the vote is behind us, we can
hit the ground running as best we can. And today’s passage really helps
us make this transition very well.

You may recall me saying at the end of service last Sunday: “God will
do amazing things if we give him a chance, if we fully engage God and
one another.” It struck me as I said that (which I went on to say),
“God HAS done amazing things for us!”

In fact, in the last year and a half, we’ve had four votes regarding
worshiping together. All four votes were unanimous! Can God do amazing
things? Absolutely!

So, let’s look at Paul’s final words to the Colossians, and his challenge to us, to remember the mission.

1 – Get seasoned with salt!
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.” (Col 4.6)

“Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” (Col 4.2)

I heard a pastor say once a sermon something that really struck me in a
negative way: “Prayer changes the heart of God.” I don’t like that
statement; it gives me the image of arm-twisting!

Prayer is a means of communication …
Part of my understanding of prayer is that it’s a means of
communication — children of God simply listening, talking, spending
time with, worshiping, hanging out with God. Part of it may involve
asking or sharing requests (although I don’t think that’s the whole
point of prayer; that would make God nothing more than a genie, it
seems to me).

As we pray, and hang out with God, we become "seasoned with salt."

2 – Participate through prayer!
“At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the
message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am
in chains. Pray that I may make it known as I should.”
(Col 4.3-4)

Prayer is a means of participating in what God is doing …
Another part of my understanding of prayer is that it’s a way God has
ordained for us to cooperate with God, to participate in what God is
doing. Philip Yancey seems to make some statements to this effect in a
Christianity Today article, Does prayer change God?

“(C.S.) Lewis suggests that we best imagine the world
not as a state governed by a potentate but as a work of art, something
like a play, in the process of being created. The playwright allows his
characters to affect the play itself, then incorporates all their
actions into the final result.”

“Prayer, especially, brings together Creator and
creature, eternity and time, in all the fathomless mystery implied by
that convergence. … I can also view prayer … as a way of entering into
the rhythms of eternity and aligning myself with God’s point of view, a
way to desire while on earth what God has willed for all eternity, to
harmonize my own purposes with the purposes of God. … I immerse myself
in the changeless qualities of God, and then return to do my part in
acting out those qualities on earth: ‘Your will be done on earth as it
is in heaven.’”

“Why prayer? Of all the means God could have used,
prayer seems the weakest, slipperiest, and easiest to ignore. So it is,
unless Jesus was right in that most baffling claim. He went away for
our sakes, as a form of power-sharing, to invite us into direct
communion with God and into the struggle against the forces of evil.”

“By using prayer rather than other, more direct means,
God once again chooses the most freedom-enhancing style of acting in
the world. God waits to be asked, in some mysterious way making God’s
activity on earth contingent on us. Does the kingdom advance slower
because of that choice?”

3 – Make the most of the opportunities with “outsiders”!
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of
the opportunities. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with
salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.”
(Col 4.5-6)

A “missional church” is indigenous. That means the people of the church
think and act like missionaries. They strive to understand a culture
and then find ways to communicate God’s Word using the language of that
culture. A missional church will work to make the most of the

Making the most of the opportunities …

  • Pray – pray for your unreached friends 
  • Love – love your unreached friends 
  • Serve – serve your unreached friends 
  • Share – share the Good News with your unreached friends 
  • Give – give generously so that there are plenty of resources to accomplish the task

I read the following statistics recently ( …

  • Among church members of 11 primary Protestant denominations (or their
    historical antecedents) in the United States and Canada, per-member
    giving as a percentage of income was lower in 2000 than in either 1921
    or 1933. In 1921, per-member giving as a percentage of income was 2.9
    percent. In 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression, per-member
    giving grew to 3.3 percent. By 2000, after a half-century of
    unprecedented prosperity, giving had fallen to 2.6 percent.
  • Overall, only 3 to 5 percent of Americans who donate money to a church
    tithe (give a tenth of) their incomes though many more claim to do so.
  • If members of historically Christian churches in the United States had
    raised their giving to the Old Testament’s minimum standard of giving
    (10 percent of income) in 2000, an additional $139 billion a year would
    become available.

4 – It takes a team!
In Colossians 4.7-18, Paul names a number of place who have been
helpful to the cause of Christ – Jews/Gentiles, Slave/Free, Men/Women,
from all kinds of places! It takes all of us working together in all
kinds of different places!

Three “Laws of Teamwork” (John Maxwell) that speak to us today … 

  • Law of Significance: One is too small a number to achieve greatness. 
  • Law of the Price Tag: The team fails to reach its potential when it fails to pay the price. 
  • Law of the Bad Apple: Rotten attitudes ruin the team.

Work at it with enthusiasm!
“Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord
and not for people, because you know that you will receive your
inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ.”
(Col 3.23-24)

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