Thanksgiving and Christian Living (Part Three): A Textual Study in Colossians

By David Brown

In Part III, Paul gives thanks to God for including the Gentile believers into His Kingdom.

Read Colossians 1:12-14.

“One of the problems we have in religious life is the tendency to see ourselves as superior to those outside of the faith.This attitude of superiority often causes us to hesitate in reaching out to those who are different from us.”
– Jim Cymbala makes this very point in a moving story from his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

“I’ll never forget Easter Sunday 1992 – the day Roberta Langella gave her dramatic testimony.

A homeless man was standing in the back of the church listening intently. At the end of the evening meeting I sat down on the edge of the platform, exhausted, as others continued to pray with those who responded to Christ. The organist was playing quietly. I wanted to relax. I was just starting to unwind when I looked up to see this man, with shabby clothing and matted hair, standing in the center isle about four rows back waiting for permission to approach me. I nodded and gave him a weak little wave of my hand. Look at how this Easter Sunday is going to end, I thought to myself. He is going to hit me for money. This happens often in this church. I’m so tired…

When he came close, I saw that his two front teeth were missing. But more striking was his odor – the mixture of alcohol, sweat, urine, and garbage took my breath away. I have been around many street people, but this was the strongest stench I have ever encountered. I instinctively had to turn my head to inhale, then look back in his direction while breathing out.
I asked his name.

“David,” he said softly.

“How long have you been homeless, David?”

“Six years.”

“Where did you sleep last night?”

“In an abandoned truck.”
I had heard enough and wanted to get this over quickly. I reached for the money clip in my back pocket. At that moment David put his finger in front of my face and said, “No, you don’t understand-I don’t want your money. I’m going to die out there. I want the Jesus that red haired girl talked about.” I hesitated, then closed my eyes. God forgive me, I begged. I felt soiled and cheap. Me, a minister of the gospel… I had simply wanted to get rid of him, when he was crying out for help of Christ I had just preached about. I swallowed hard as God’s love flooded my soul. David sensed the change in me. He moved toward me and fell on my chest, burying his grimy head against my white shirt and tie. Holding him close, I talked to him about Jesus’ love. These weren’t just words; I felt them. I felt love for this pitiful young man. And that smell…I don’t know how to explain it. It had almost made me sick, but now it became the most beautiful fragrance to me. I reveled in what had been repulsive just a moment ago.
The Lord seemed to say to me in that instant. Jim, if you and your wife have any value to me, if you have any purpose in my work-it has to do with this odor. This is the smell of the world I died for:”

The point is that Christianity is not about the work we do but rather the work the Father has already done through His Son.And one of the greatest ways of showing our thanks to God is by inviting people into the Christian fold.

How do we put this message into a nutshell and apply it into our lives?

This is a passage that teaches us that the Christian faith is not about us. It does not center around us! It’s primary emphasis is not on our views or the works we accomplish. Rather it centers around our Heavenly Father and the work He has done through His Son. So by focusing the Colossians on the work that God has done through His Son. The Colossians might become a people that focus on God rather than  on themselves.

Dr. David Brown (Ph.D, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Senior Pastor of Roseland Park Baptist Church in Picayune, Mississippi. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidbdwb.

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