Daily Update #350

Today’s reading:

Colossians 1:28-29

28He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I labour, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.

What is the point or purpose of the Church? How should we behave in response? Paul gave the small church in Colossae the answers in the above verses. Before we look at this more closely, I will pose another question – How well is the Church doing today in fulfilling its purpose? The great American pastor and teacher Aiden Wilson Tozer would have had no doubts at all about this. His final message, ‘The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches’, was published on 14th May1963, just 2 days after his death aged 66. This robust essay gives a powerful warning to today’s Church: “The present position of Christ in the gospel churches may be likened to that of a king (or a queen) in a limited, constitutional monarchy. The king (sometimes depersonalised by the term ‘the Crown’) is in such a country no more than a traditional rallying point, a pleasant symbol of unity and loyalty much like a flag or a national anthem. He is lauded, feted and supported, but his real authority is small. Nominally he is head over all, but in every crisis someone else makes the decisions. On formal occasions he appears in his royal attire to deliver the tame, colourless speech put into his mouth by the real rulers of the country. The whole thing may be no more than good-natured make-believe, but it is rooted in antiquity, it is a lot of fun and no one wants to give it up”. May this never be true of us!  

St Paul’s great aim in his ministry, as set out in today’s reading, gives us the answers we need to my earlier questions. The Church exists to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, to  warn everyone and to teach everyone about Him, and to present everyone complete (fully mature) in Him! At best, everything else we do as Christians, with all the power given to us by the Holy Spirit, is to support this aim and activity, nothing else. At worst, anything else we do is merely sociable human activity, however worthy it is. If Jesus is peripheral to the activities of His Church then we are all wasting our time – and they are no more than window dressing. If we don’t proclaim Christ crucified, risen and ascended in glory, we have nothing of eternal value to say or to do. Let’s look at these two verses more closely:

verse 28 – the word ‘proclaim’ means to announce, like a messenger or a herald. It is used 11 times in the book of Acts as Dr Luke sets out the rapid progress of the gospel and the establishment of many local churches. Jesus is the one about whom Paul and his fellow Christians preach – who He is, what He did, what He is doing, what He will do and what He requires from all who follow Him. Jesus is the focus of their balanced warnings and teaching. ‘Wisdom’, as used here, has been well-described as ‘our skill at living life under God’s rule.’  Paul was not simply striving for conversions or happy, nice and united Christians! His ambition was to present to God believers who had truly grown up in their faith to reflect the character of Jesus Christ. Are our ambitions for each other too limited?

verse 29 – the apostles could hardly have worked harder in travelling, facing opposition and danger, proclaiming the gospel and nurturing new believers. They did so in God’s strength. He does provide the power we need but we must strive in partnership with Him!   

Today’s Prayer: Thank you Father that you are never satisfied with second best for us, or from us. In Jesus, we know that you have given us the very best, the greatest gift of all. Help us, we pray, to make Him the focus and the purpose of our lives. May we proclaim Jesus and the truth of His good news in all that we are, speak and do. We ask this in His precious name. Amen.   (Mike W)

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