Chosen in Christ

Chosen in Christ

Home Church Service 8/7/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed the points Paul was making. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”                                                       Colossians 3:12-17 (NASB)

As kids, when it came to picking teams and playing games, everyone wanted to be chosen first – or at least soon after. What we dreaded the most as kids was being chosen last. The stigma of being chosen last could mess with your whole day. Being chosen last gave everyone the chance to laugh at you; you carried the weight of being chosen last because you were viewed as not being good enough; being chosen last was like saying you were a burden, and no one wanted you. Being chosen last just plain sucks!

For Christ followers being chosen changes everything. You see, Christ followers are not just simply chosen, they are Chosen in Christ. Instead of being seen as a burden and unwanted or a laughingstock for being chosen last, being Chosen in Christ means the Christ follower has been set apart and is deeply loved, they are given a new heart and are given a special calling to a unified body of Christ followers. When a Christ follower is Chosen in Christ it des not matter if they are chosen first, third or last, for being Chosen in Christ fills the heart with thanksgiving and praise.

The Chosen in Christ are holy and beloved, to be one body ruled by the word of Christ, peace and love, forgiving as they have been forgiven; they teach with wisdom giving thanks to God the Father.

The Chosen in Christ are set apart and loved, forgiving others as they have been forgiven. They have been called to one body, filled with love, peace and togetherness. They teach and build one another up through the Scriptures and times of worship, in the name of Christ, giving thanks to the Father.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What does it means to be Chosen in Christ?”

To be Chosen in Christ means the Christ follower is set apart and loved, receiving a new heart that forgives others freely.

1). To be Chosen in Christ means the Christ follower has been called to a unified body.

The peace of Christ rules the thankful heart of the Christ follower.

This passage opens with a reminder – as Christ followers we are chosen of God. Christ is the Chosen One, so those who are found in Christ – Christ followers – are Chosen in Christ. Here is the thing we must remember, our status as chosen comes at the initiative of God, it has nothing to do with human effort. If God saved everyone on the basis of works, accomplishments or human honors, no one would be saved. It is all done through the grace of God that all the glory would belong to God. As the chosen of God we are holy and beloved.

Holy means to be set apart for God. We have trusted in Christ; thus, we are set apart form the world for the Lord. We are not now our own but belong fully to him. This means we must also live a set apart life. It is a horrible thing to consider the Christ follower living for the world and the flesh after being bought at the high price of the shed blood of Christ. The Christ follower is also loved. Love is the strongest motivating power in this world.  When we were sinners, separated from God, we were a creature breaking the laws of a holy and righteous Creator and Judge, but as Christ followers when we sin, we break the heart of a loving Father.

But as the chosen of God we are given a new heart, a heart filled with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Compassion is the genuine concern and heart felt sympathy for the needs of others. Kindness is acting charitably towards others just as God has acted charitably towards us. We have received kindness, so we act with kindness towards others. Humility is seeing yourself with a true understanding of your position or standing in God. You are not above or better than others nor are you beneath or below others. Gentleness is being considerate to others and submissive to God and His word. This is not a position of weakness – it is consideration for others. Patience is putting up with those people who irritate – even though you may have the right to retaliate.

Even with the virtues of a new heart Christ followers are not perfect, thus we are called to forgive one another as God has forgiven us. This implies a continual, mutual forgiveness of problems, irritations and complaints that happen in the body of Christ. Remembering the unconditional and infinite love of God should help the Christ follower in loving and forgiving one another. God’s forgiveness is complete and final, it is not conditional or partial – this is the pattern the Christ follower must follow as well.

Love is the main garment of the Christ follower’s new life – it is the girdle that holds the other virtues together. To practice any of the other virtues without love leads to distortion, fragmentation and stagnation. In the body of Christ love must be used to unify and build up both the individual and the body as a whole. The Christ followers love does not seek its own, it gives itself in humility to the diverse fellowship of other Christ followers – only then can completeness and unity be found.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

As a Christ follower, how do you view your status as “chosen of God?”

In your life as a Christ follower, what has it meant to be “set apart for God?”

As a Christ follower, is it easy or difficult to forgive others? Why?

As a Christ follower, what challenges do you face in loving others in the body of Christ?

To be Chosen in Christ means the Christ follower is set apart and loved, receiving a new heart that forgives others freely.

2). To be Chosen in Christ means the Christ follower has the Word of Christ living within them.

We teach and build one another up in the name of Christ Jesus.

The result of putting on love to bind together the virtues of a new heart is the peace of Christ. To live in peace does not mean that, suddenly, all of our differences in opinion have been eliminated but, rather, this peace requires a willingness to work together despite our differences – this kind of peace can never come from a strictly human effort, this requires the help of God – arbitrating and empowering His people to get along – this is the peace of Christ ruling in the hearts of Christ followers.

The word rule is an athletic term, it is used in reference to the Greek games and the judges who preside over the games and distribute the prizes. We would call them umpires today. The peace of Christ is to be the “umpire” in the heart of Christ followers. When we are obedient to God, we have His peace within; when we are out of step with God’s will, we lose His peace. This peace would also settle any friction or disagreements among the body so Christ followers can remain strong and unified. When Christ followers have peace in their hearts their lips overflow with praise. With an overriding attitude of thankfulness, they have gratitude for all that God has done for them – for salvation and making them a part of the body of Christ.

The word of Christ is to richly dwell within the Christ follower. This is, of course, means the Bible for us today. The phrase “dwell within” comes from the Greek root word oikos – house of place of abode. This gives the implication of being at home or a permanent residence. False teachers in all ages have tried to harmonize the word of God with their teachings, traditions and rituals – but these are all man-made substitutes that cannot be harmonized with the Scriptures. False teaching does not bring salvation – only God’s word can produce and secure your eternal life! This is the word that gives us life and sustains and strengthens us.

The word richly means abundantly available. This is not the nagging drip of a leaky faucet, no this is a full-on steady stream of God’s word being taught, studied, prayed over and meditated on. If we have truly experienced the mercy and grace of God, the word will feel at home and make its permanent residence in our hearts where it is abundantly available. This is the word that has the power to transform the Christ follower’s life. But also notice that this is the Christ follower’s choice – the word does not naturally dwell in our hearts, thus we allow the word to enter our hearts and make its home there.

The result of the word richly dwelling within the heart of the Christ follower is teaching in wisdom and admonishing or exhorting one another. Even those who claim the name of Jesus Christ need to be reminded now and then of the power of the Scriptures in their life. Too many believe they are heaven bound because they are in church, but the sad truth is, many will be turned away because Jesus “never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). One of the first lessons we learn when first coming to Christ is faith comes through hearing. We must remember that faith is also strengthened by hearing! The psalmist tells us that “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Psalm 27:17). We cannot sharpen one another unless we have the wisdom of God.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

As a Christ follower, have you put on love to bind together the virtues of the new heart? How do you know?

As a Christ follower, how do you know the peace of Christ rules your heart?

As a Christ follower, how do you make certain the word of Christ dwells richly within your heart?

As a Christ follower, how do you bring peace to the body of Christ?

To be Chosen in Christ means the Christ follower is set apart and loved, receiving a new heart that forgives others freely.

As kids we dreaded the thought of picking teams to play games – no one wants to be chosen last. No one wants to be laughed at or to feel like a burden for being chosen last – in fact, being chosen last just plain stinks!

For the Christ follower, being Chosen in Christ changes everything. No longer does it matter when you are chosen because you are no longer a laughingstock or a burden. Being Chosen in Christ fills the heart with thanksgiving and praise because you are set apart for God and deeply loved.

The new life we have in Christ and the new heart we have received have a purpose – that purpose is to mature in our faith and develop more Christlikeness. Our maturity has some very distinctive marks. The mature Christ follower is trusting and believing. They trust in Jesus’ humanity and divinity, God’s unconditional love and the reconciling of human suffering and God’s love.

The mature Christ follower experiences the fruit of the faith. They experience a sense of well-being, security and peace. Mature Christ followers integrate faith and life. They do not put faith in a box and take it out only when it suits their purposes, rather, life is filtered through their faith in Christ. Mature Christ followers seek further spiritual growth. Understanding faith, growing in trust and obedience happen through intentional reading studying and reflection of the Scriptures, through prayer and listening to God as he speaks.

The mature Christ follower witnesses to their faith and offers encouragement to other Christ followers within the body of Christ. Too many believe they can be a “Christian” without true fellowship of others because “God is everywhere” …even at home. Mature Christ followers believe life is good and thus must be affirmed. They take responsibility for the welfare of others, caring about places around the globe as well as those close to home. Mature Christ followers believe their faith demands a global concern and that the church belongs in the public sphere.

Mature Christ followers get involved and serve others. They do not use excuses like, “I’m too busy,” or simply hire others to do the work. Their circle of concern has widened so they minister to those who can never repay. Mature Christ followers are marked with joy and thanksgiving, and this comes through in their worship – both public and private. Worship is never about us but about God. We gather for God’s word, we gather for God’s wisdom, we gather to offer praise and thanksgiving to God alone. Does your faith say you are a mature Christ follower?

We do all things through Christ to the glory of God the Father.

Amen and Amen.

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