Our Character in Christ

Christ carrying cross up Calvary on Good Friday over bright sky

Our Character in Christ

Home Church Service 8/14/2021

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 each point of the message. 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!

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.                        
                          Colossians 3:18-4:6 (NASB)

We have come to the final message in Colossians where we have been examining the supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ Jesus. As we have seen, Christ is supreme to anything this world has to offer, in every area of our lives. He is all-sufficient for every area of our lives – said another way, He is all we need for every area of our lives. We first looked at The Fullness of Christ where we learn He takes first place in all things, and He has brought us peace with the Father. Next, we learn of our Assurance in Christ. We have a true knowledge of God’s mystery, and we find this true knowledge and wisdom in Christ alone.

We discovered we are Forgiven & Debt Free; thus, we walk in overflowing gratitude and fellowship with Christ. We are Anchored in Christ, able to discern the deceptive practices and false teachings of the self-centered and self-important worldly leader. We also find that we will be Revealed with Christ. Our death to sin and a new life that is hidden in Christ will be revealed at His return. Last week we found that we are Chosen in Christ. We have been called to a unified body where the word of Christ lives within us bringing peace to the Christ follower. That brings us to our final message, Our Character in Christ, where we examine our conduct within our relationships at home, work and with others.

Our Character in Christ is to be seen in all of our relationships beginning with the family where wives and husbands are subject to and love one another; children obey their parents while fathers encourage their children. Slaves obey their masters while the master provides justice for the slave, knowing they both have a Master in heaven. We are devoted to prayer in thanksgiving that God may open the door for the word. We speak the mystery of Christ with wisdom and grace, our speech seasoned with salt.

Our Character in Christ is witnessed in our relationships at home, at work and with others. At home there is mutual submission, love and obedience, while at work both employee and employer consider the needs of one another, knowing they are working for the Lord. We pray for opportunities to share the good news of Christ Jesus, always speaking grace filled words, knowing our words impact people differently.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why does Our Character in Christ matter?”

As Christ followers, Our Character in Christ matter because all of our relationships are a witness to the world.

1). As Christ followers, Our Character in Christ in the family is a witness to mutual submission, love and obedience.

Our family life is the first place we “walk the walk and talk the talk” for ALL people to see our faith in Christ.

The faith we have in Christ Jesus does not only change us as individuals – it

also changes our homes. There have been radical changes in our homes in recent years. As late as the 1970’s the family still acted as a unit; family meals were still a common occurrence; mothers stayed at home and children, by-and-large, were obedient to their parents. But things began to change, slowly at first, but with increasing speed, to the point that the family meal is now something from a bygone era. Many homes are now single parent homes, forcing children into childcare facilities or to care for themselves at home. Should the family have both parents in place, both are forced to work to make ends meet. Obedience to parents is nearly out the window!

The first institution God established on earth was marriage and the family. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, became the first marriage which then produced the first children or family. This is also the place where Satan’s first attack landed, He first sought to divide the union of husband and wife and then, subsequently, their children, Cain and Abel. Our God is an orderly God, He created all things in an orderly fashion and all things function in an orderly fashion. This holds true in the family unit; thus, mutual submission, love and obedience are on full display.

We must not think of submission as slavery or inferiority. The Greek verb for submit is used for a modest, cooperative attitude that puts others first. The fact that the wife is to submit to the husband in no way implies that the man is better than the woman. This is reflective of God’s order – the husband is responsible for the headship and leadership of the family. The husband is not to be a dictator but a loving leader. In fact, both husband and wife are to submit to the Lord AND to one another.

The command to love your wife is the Greek agape – a sacrificial, serving love shown to us by Christ. In a marriage between Christ followers, both husband and wife know and have experienced the love of God for each of them. It is the husband that is charged to be the example of this love for everyone in the family and each member in turn models it for the other members of the family. While a marriage may begin with the concept of romantic love, it must grow into the deeper agape love. The sacrificial, serving love will keep the husband from becoming bitter towards his wife and the wife will have little trouble submitting to a husband who loves her so.

The natural result of marriage is the bearing of children. Children have rights- the right to be born and the right to a loving and nurturing family, but they also have responsibilities – first and foremost to be obedient to their parents. The child who does not learn to obey their parents will likely grow up not obeying any authority. We can easily see this breakdown in our society today where the breakdown began in the family only to spill over into society. Here again, we see the importance of the father’s headship and leadership of the family. He must model obedience to Christ for his wife and children to learn and understand they are all under submission.

While the father is singled out, the Greek word can actually be translated as parents, so both parents must model submission and obedience before their child, thus making it easier to obey their parents. Fathers and mothers must both encourage their child, making time to spend with them, listening to them and being patient with them. Life is not easy for children and especially so for the child of those who are Christ followers. The Christ follower’s home must be a sanctuary for all members, but especially our children. A discourage child becomes easy prey for Satan and the world. Therefore, the Christ follower’s home must be a place of encouragement where they will find a loving heart, a listening ear and a helping hand.

As Christ followers who are married, how do you show mutual submission to one another?

As Christ followers who are married, how do you show sacrificial, serving love to one another?

As Christ followers who have or are considering having children, how do you or how will you model mutual submission for your child/children?

As Christ followers who have or are considering having children, how do you or how will you offer them a home that is encouraging, loving and nurturing?

As Christ followers, Our Character in Christ matter because all of our relationships are a witness to the world.

2). As Christ followers, Our Character in Christ at work is a witness to our awareness and awe of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

We do not work simply to please people but with full awareness it is the Lord we serve.

We now turn our attention to our work relationships. In Paul’s day this meant slavery. Slavery was a well developed and established institution, there were some 60 million slaves during this time and many of them were well-educated people. Slaves were not property to be owned, though many owed a huge debt, these slaves had many different responsibilities. Some were charged with the education and care of the family’s children; some were cooks or maids; others simply ran errands, to mention just a few of the responsibilities of the slave. The point is slaves were an integral part of the family and in society.

Because of the spread of the gospel message, many slaves and masters became Christ followers, thus the church had to deal with this issue in a straightforward manner. Paul neither condones or condemns slavery, he does however, urge slaves and masters to live together in Christian homes. Women, children and slaves had very little rights in society, but in the church, they had freedoms society denied them. The slave who became a Christ follower still owed his master complete obedience but now it has become a ministry to the Lord. The master who became a Christ follower still retained rights to the slave but now he is to deal fairly and justly with his slave, again, as a ministry to the Lord.

We don’t have slaves or masters today, but we do have employees and employers. The employee who is a Christ follower has the opportunity to impact his surroundings by the energy and effort they put into their job – they do this because it is important to the Lord. The Christ follower does not work with an external service, that is, to be seen by those around them to impress them or only working hard when the boss is around. Instead, they do what they have been instructed and more; they do what is expected of them and more; they produce what is expected and more. The Christ follower is to go above and beyond because it is pleasing to the Lord, and it is a witness of their fear and reverence of the Lord.

The employer who is a Christ follower is to be just and fair with his employees; this includes wages, assignments, production goals, expectations and promotions. The employer who is a Christ followers should not unfairly expect more from the employee who is a Christ follower, nor should the employer treat others unfairly because they are not Christ followers. In all they do, both employee and employer who are Christ followers, must remember they have a Master in heaven. In the end, the work relationship is meant to share the gospel through our actions in the midst of earning a living.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

As a Christ follower, what do you your work relationships say about your relationship with Christ?

As a Christ follower, are you going above and beyond what is expected as a ministry to the Lord?

As a Christ follower in charge of others, how does your relationship with Christ impact how you deal with those in your charge?

As Christ followers, Our Character in Christ matter because all of our relationships are a witness to the world.

3). As Christ followers, Our Character in Christ with others is a witness of our desire for all people to experience the good news of Christ Jesus.

We share the mystery of Christ because we are filled with thanksgiving for His work in our lives.

Paul concludes this section by reminding us to be devoted to prayer with thanksgiving. We pray with thanksgiving for the relationships we have at home, at work and with others; we pray with thanksgiving for the power of the gospel in our lives; we pray with thanksgiving that we have the opportunity to make a living; we pray with thanksgiving for our life and witness in Christ. But we must also pray for the opportunity to share Christ – to speak boldly, clearly and with wisdom to those who are without Christ.

Our conduct with those who are unchurched is to be filled with wisdom. This is not our own wisdom or the wisdom of the world, but rather the wisdom we have gained through our time in prayer – the wisdom of Christ. This wisdom includes watching what we say to others, keeping our promises made to others, and not over inflating stories or details to make ourselves more important in the eyes of others. In this way we keep from saying anything that might make it difficult to share the gospel.

Our words are to be filled and controlled by grace. This means our hearts must be filled with grace, for it is from the heart that the mouth speaks. So, with a heart filled with grace the words we speak will be controlled by grace and thus we glorify and honor our Lord, Jesus Christ. From my personal experience as a sales manager, I have learned that grace filled words can take “the wind out of the sails” much faster than a sharp blow, and it matters not if you are dealing with a person who is angry or simply someone with a hardened heart – grace filled words break down barriers.

Our words must also be spoken as though seasoned with salt. We all know what salt does to food – in some cases, like watermelon, it brings out the sweetness; in other cases, like French fries, it brings out the savory. In other words, salt makes things taste better. So words seasoned by salt make the gospel sound better to the unchurched. There are two ways we can look at seasoned as well. The first is what we just talked about – making food taste better. But seasoned can also be looked at as experience. Sports announcers talk about the seasoned veteran because of their experience. So, your experience in Christ makes you a seasoned veteran with stories to share with the unchurched to add appeal to the gospel.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

As a Christ follower, are your words filled and controlled by grace? How do you know?

As a Christ follower, are you using your experiences in Christ to make the gospel more appealing?

As a Christ follower, are you using wisdom in dealing with the unchurched? How?

As Christ followers, Our Character in Christ matter because all of our relationships as a witness to the world.

We have learned that Christ is supreme and all-sufficient in all areas of our lives – He is better than anything this world can offer, and He is all we need for every area of our lives. There is no area of our life that is not touched by Christ.

He is first in creation, He is true wisdom and knowledge, He provides our salvation, He sharpens our discernment, our new life is hidden in Him, and He has called us to His body – the church. Finally, this week we find Him in our relationships at home, work and with others.

Our new life begins at home. This is our “real world,” husbands and wives, children and parents, employees and employers, and outsiders, those who are unchurched and without Christ. In each of these relationships, the Lordship of Christ is to be clearly seen. The family, our home life, is the first-place people can see if we are “walking the walk and talking the talk.” Here is where we learn self-control over our anger, language and lying so that our family life is filled with peace. This is where we can work out the values of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

For Christ followers to impact their relationships at work and with others, they must first learn from their family life. Then we can be equipped to impact the rest of the world and we begin by praying. Praying requires serious discipline. If we desire a prayer life that impacts our lives and our world, it cannot be sporadic or haphazard. We must pray with purpose and consistency. From a consistent prayer life, we develop a sense of urgency. Too often the Christ follower has allowed an opportunity to slip away unfulfilled. We must take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.

This is how we act wisely towards the unchurched. The message of the Christ follower is clear: Jesus Christ is God’s only plan and purpose for ALL of creation. It is through the blood of Christ on the cross that sinful people find peace with a holy God and where creation finds freedom from the curse of sin. Once we fully grasp that Christ has come to redeem all people and all of creation then we become filled with grace – we have received God’s grace so now we must act with grace towards others. We must be bold and uncompromising in our witness, but we do this with grace – gentleness, kindness and good humor.

In this we show we are seasoned with salt. We must break the grip of the lie that Christ followers are boring and dull.  Yet we must not fall into the trap, as many have done already, of simply providing entertainment. We must communicate the basics of our faith in meaningful, personal ways that make the gospel appealing to the unchurched. This will keep us well grounded, ready and able to answer any questions and challenges the unchurched might have. We must remember there isn’t always a pat answer, and it is okay to say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out together.”

Finally, a word of warning – be prepared to face the fallout of sharing the gospel – of sharing your story in Christ – in a culture that is growing even more hostile towards those who are Christ followers. This will not be the case every time you share your story, but we must be prepared for the times it will happen. Remember, Jesus never promised this would be easy, He only promised He would be with us always. We must know the world will hate us because it first hated Christ; we must know we will find trouble in this world because Christ first found trouble in this world; we must know the enemy will try to destroy us because the enemy first tried to destroy Christ! But we also know that Christ has overcome the world and destroyed the works of Satan – so we march boldly onward in the power and strength of Christ, protected in the armor of God.

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

Amen and Amen.

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