He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:28-29
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
When I was 15, I made the long walk down the aisle of our Southern Baptist Church to meet the preacher and make a public declaration that I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I soon followed it up with baptism and, by all signs, it seemed as if I had crossed the finish line of a long marathon. I did it! I finished the race! The baptism cemented my life in Jesus and it was time to move onto other things.
The truth was that I had “accepted Christ” many times before that moment at 15. We had a lot of “revivals” where I grew up and I attended more than my fair share. I think I accepted Jesus anew at every revival and vacation bible school that I attended with my neighbor. My story is probably a pretty typical one for a child of the eighties, a decade marked by altar calls and tracts. Or, at least for a child of the 80’s growing up in the Appalachian mountains.
I was a pro at accepting Jesus but I failed miserably at actually walking with Him. I had no idea how to. Every time I hit a wall with the misery and guilt over my own poor choices, I made a new “decision” for Christ and in my mind the slate was clean. At least for a few hours.
My favorite part of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is that it shows there is no aspect of human life that the life of Jesus cannot wholly transform. Your marriage, your relationships, your suffering, your view of sexuality - these are just a few of the things the Spirit of God works to revolutionize so that we may one day be presented fully mature in Christ.
Paul speaks of “strenuously contend[ing]” to proclaim Christ. Another translation says, “Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.” Accepting Him is not the end but just the beginning of a new, Kingdom life. We know from Paul this new life can be difficult but the best part is that we are not left to go at it alone. The same power that worked in Paul, through Christ - the same power that enabled him to write from jail and rejoice even in suffering - is the same power that God wants to work in us so that we may have the energy and perseverance to walk this life.
That sounds really great and easy, doesn’t it? But how often do we feel left alone and powerless to change our own circumstances much less the circumstances of the world? I have noticed that when I’m struggling the most is when I am white-knuckling my way through life and trying to live on my own apart from an awareness and dependence on God. Life takes something much deeper, stronger, and powerful than white knuckles.
The caricature I knew of Jesus in my early life did not have a chance to sustain the weight of real life struggles. As I pursued Him, spent time with Him, studied His word, and learned to walk with Him, the more I began to really know Him. He became more than an elusive figure somewhere in the sky unconcerned with my daily life. He is the generative, life-giving source of my present. He wants a relationship with me and He wants me to know His power in every moment. He wants this for all of us.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Receiving Christ is only the glorious beginning. As we continue to live our lives with Him, we walk in a strength and freedom we can only find through Him.
Ultimately, the book of Colossians is one of finding freedom in Christ when the ways of the world turn up empty. Where are the places in your life that you feel bound? Ask God for His strength and His power to set you free. Profess your thankfulness to God for His power.
Do you have a friend or loved one who is living life in their own strength? Spend time talking to God about your hopes and desires for this person. Pray that God would powerfully work in this person’s life and that their dependence on Him would increase.
Lord, help me to turn to You in every moment so that my life is lived rooted and strengthened in You. Increase my thirst for Your presence and knowledge of who You are. Thank you that while Your Spirit is in invisible, its presence is powerful. I don’t have the energy or even the will to faithfully walk this life without You. Strengthen me, Lord, as only You can. In Jesus name. Amen.
PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.