Brad Libolt speaking on Colossians 3:12-17. He spoke about our identity. How God’s story changes our story which changes our identity which changes who we are.
- If you went to JH Ranch this past week, you made some promises with your leaders for this upcoming school year. As we enter into this school year we will be starting up small groups and Thursday nights and as we do that we get to take a serious look at our relationship with God. A good passage to look at as school approaches is in Colossians 3:12-17.
- A year ago before I was married, I lived with a bunch of guys that were my best friends. We did a lot of stuff together. For Christmas that year, our college church group was having a Christmas party. The dress code for this Christmas party was festive/classy. You can interpret that a lot of different ways. So my roommates and I leaned more towards the festive side. We went and all got white pants, white turtle necks, and matching ugly green Christmas sweaters that stuck out like a sore thumb. But it was awesome because we were all in it together, and it was a festive Christmas party so we figured a lot of people would have gone all out with the Christmas sweaters and it was going to be great. So we are all decked out in our matching festive Christmas outfits, and we roll into this party and literally everyone else went with the classy side of the dress code. The guys were all in nice suits and the girls had dresses on, and there we were in white pants and bright green Christmas sweaters. We were out of place and we couldn’t hide it. We thought we had put on the right clothes for the occasion, but we were very wrong.
- Our identity determines what we wear. Imagine you are an astronaut, and you show up to the spaceship wearing a scuba outfit. That would be very strange. If you are a football player, you should put on pads and a jersey and a helmet and cleats. A ballerina would wear a leotard, a scuba diver wears a wetsuit, a cowboy wears boots and spurs, a chef wears a white shirt and white hat. What you are determines what you wear. Your identity determines what you put on.
- Today we are going to look at what a child of God puts on. What someone who has been chosen by God, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ should look like and be noticed by. Let’s dive into the text and see what we should be putting on as followers of Christ.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
- Right away we are reminded of our identity. Its says we are God’s chosen ones. It says God sees us, he knows us, he sees our mess and our sin and he says “I don’t care how bad they think they are” and despite our mess he loves us and sends his son to die in our place, to save us from our sin and mess. He has chosen us to be apart of his family, to be in his kingdom. And we are holy. We have the righteousness of Christ. We can be called holy and can be in God’s presence because Christ took the penalty for our sin and gave us his perfection and his holiness. And we are beloved. We are so loved by God. Loved so much that he gave his only son for us. That is our identity as followers of Christ. We are chosen, holy, and beloved. This is all because he loves us.
- That becomes our identity. A person who is holy and loved by God. Our identity is not an athlete, or a dancer, or the person who is weird or comes form a broken family. Who we are determines what we put on. So because of our identity in Christ, we put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
- A compassionate heart sees the hurt and the pain and the suffering around it and offers compassion. It offers kindness to those who don’t seem to deserve it. Humility puts other’s needs above our own. It’s selflessly serving others, giving of our time and energy because we want to love others. Humility recognizes that we are nothing without Christ, and so we are humble when those around us want to boast. Meekness is like gentleness. We understand that people have hurts and struggles and emotions so we treat them with gentleness and humility. And patience. One of the hardest ones to do, because it’s hard to fake. But it is the ability to wait a long long time for something. It is suffering for a long time for the sake of others.
- Notice how all these qualities are outward facing. Our identity in Christ has to do with how we interact with others, how we have relationships with other people. We treat people with kindness and respect and humility and gentleness and patience.
- And the next verse says we forgive others, take a look.
13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
- We are fallen and with our fallen nature comes conflict. Our reaction as sinful is to react with anger and frustrations. But our reaction as holy people is forgiveness. So when you have issues with other people, when someone hurts you or talks bad about you or offends you in some way, you forgive them. We should put on hearts and attitudes of forgiveness.
- And why? Why do we forgive one another? Because we have been forgiven by God. That is why we do any of this, because God showed it to us first in his son Jesus. Jesus had a compassionate heart, he showed us kindness, he was humble, he showed meekness, he was patient, and he has forgiven us of all our sin and wrong that we have committed against him. So because Jesus has shown us all of these qualities and continues to show us them despite how much we wrong him and sin against him and hurt him, we should show others the same. We love others because he first loved us. We show others kindness and patience and forgiveness because he first showed us kindness, patience, and forgiveness.
14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
- What brings everything together is God’s love for us. We should be so full of the love of Christ that it is overflowing in our lives. If we love others like God has loved us, then being patient, kind, and forgiving others is going to happen naturally. God showed us his perfect and unconditional love when he sent Jesus to die in our place on the cross. That love never wavers, never changes, and never fails, no matter what we do. So let’s have that kind of love. Let’s love others the way God loves us.
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
- And with the love of God comes the peace of Christ. When we love others like God loves us, we will have so much peace. We will be slower to get angry, slower to fight, slower to lash out in frustration, slower to get upset with others, all because of the peace of Christ that we have in our hearts. And then it says be thankful. Be thankful to your parents, your teachers, your siblings.
- Now lets pause for a second, because some of us might be getting overwhelmed. This is quite the list isn’t it? And this isn’t easy to do.
- It’s hard enough as it is, but the thing is is that it will be even harder if we do it alone. Look at what the verse says, it says we were called to Christ in one body. This is not meant to be done alone. It’s a community project. We do it together. It will be so much easier to live as a follower of Christ, as someone who’s identity is in Christ, if we are striving to do it together. So ask yourself who is your community? Is it the people at your church? Your small group?
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
- The Bible is God’s word to us. In it we find out truths about the world and about our lives. It contains the very words of the creator God, the God who knows us and loves us and saves us. Within its pages are everything we need for life and godliness. And so if these are the very words of God, then we should probably read them, shouldn’t we? This verse says to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, and we can only do that, the word of Christ will only dwell within us if we spend time reading it, meditating on it, and thinking about it. This isn’t always easy, but again it should be done within community. If you can make it a habit to read the Bible often now, at your age, it will change your life forever. God has given us such rich and amazing truths about himself, about the world, and about us in the Bible, and it is so easily accessible to us, we should make it a priority to spend time reading it. So make it a priority. Make it important.
- The other thing it says to do in this verse is to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in our hearts to God. So prayer and worship. As followers of Christ we are constantly thinking about what God has done for us, how he has saved us from our sin, and so our constant response to that should be to worship him with thankfulness. We can worship God by singing to him and about him at church or camp, or even on our own. We can worship him by praying, and thanking him for all he has done for you. And we worship him with our lives. When we obey God and do what he has asked us to do and love others well we are responding to what God has done to us, and that’s a form of worship. Our attitudes of thankfulness, our hearts of thankfulness towards God come from constantly reminding ourselves what he has done for us through his son Jesus, and how he has cleaned up our mess and saved us from the grenade of sin in our life that would kill us if it wasn’t for his sacrifice on the cross. So because of this, we worship God. We read about him in his word. We pray to him and thank him for who he is and what he’s done. We treat others like he has treated us. And we spend time in community where we can help each other do these things by holding each other accountable, praying for one another, and encouraging one another.
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- So whatever we do in life, the things we say, the things we do, our thoughts, our decisions, everything we do, we do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. We do everything with thankfulness and the realization that we can only live a purposeful life, satisfied, with true joy, in the presence of our creator, because of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.
- God’s story changes our story, changes our identity, changes who we are. And when our identity, who we are, changes, so does the way we live and what we do. The gospel affects us at the deepest part of who we are, it changes the core of our being, and then our life changes as an outflow of the gospel that is in our hearts.