This is the second in a series of three articles on our Mission statement. Be sure to check out part 1 here.
We have now established that our mission statement begins with treasuring Jesus. We cannot do anything, including build and proclaim until we treasure him. Once we treasure God in Christ, we will seek to honor and obey him in our lives. In so doing God is glorified.
Colossians is laid out the same way, treasuring comes before building and proclaiming. Paul begins with rich Christ-centered theology focused on the person and work of Jesus, then he applies that rich theology to Christian living. In light of the truth that we are united to Christ, Paul shows us how we ought to live. Essentially, he is saying, “You are in Christ. Now be who you are.”
This was the aim of Paul’s life and ministry, to help others be who they are in Christ, or as he writes in Colossians 1:28 to present everyone mature in Christ. This is what we mean when we say MBC is committed to building up one another in the faith.
Look with me at Colossians 1:28:
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
First, notice the placement of the pronoun him at the front of this verse. The ESV has captured the original Greek well. In Greek, the pronoun is placed at the front of the sentence for the purpose of emphasis. Paul is emphatically saying to us that we don’t need more self-help books or boosted self-esteem or psychology or even a deeper understanding of the prophecy of Revelation, we need Jesus Christ. We need him proclaimed into our lives. At the heart of growth is the proclamation of Jesus, the Word. Believers and unbelievers alike need Jesus. As believers, we don’t just need Jesus at the moment of initial conversion, but we must continue to walk in him for our lifetime. Colossians 2:6 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” He is our only hope and help for faithful living in this life.
And we are able to live these faithful lives because chapter 2 is true. Chapter 2 places a significant emphasis on the work of Jesus Christ and our union with Him. If we are found in Him, what is true of Him is true of us. We who were once dead in our trespasses, God made alive together with Christ. We who were once slaves to sin are now slaves to righteousness.
Second, notice how Paul was committed to present everyone mature in Christ by warning and teaching. Warning has the sense of correcting through instruction and caution by bringing the truth of God’s Word to bear in the situation. Teaching is an ongoing systematic instruction in the doctrines of the Christian faith. Chapter 3 gives us a wonderful picture of how the truths of God’s Word are to be lived out practically as we grow into the image of Christ. Based on their death and resurrection with Christ and hope of future life with Him, Paul encourages the Colossians to continue eliminating sinful behaviors from their lives and cultivate Christian virtue.
In addition, it is very important to note that chapter 3 is not lived out in a vacuum but in community. Paul’s use of “body” talk and “one another” statements is showing that the Christian life is to be lived out not in the privacy of your own home but in a community of believers, called the local church.
Third, Paul’s purpose in proclaiming Christ, teaching, and warning is to present everyone mature in Christ. Just like Paul, it is disciple-making, not just convert-making that we are to be about at MBC. This is Great Commission work:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jeff and I will be held accountable on the final day for our faithfulness in presenting everyone mature in Christ. But we all have responsibility to be engaged in the lives of one another. We should be bringing the Word to bear in each other’s lives. Colossians 3:16 says,
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.
In light of the fact that Jesus is our greatest treasure, we should expend our energies as believers to help our brothers and sisters in Christ see him as their greatest treasure as well and to build them up in their faith in him. This happens through bringing the Word to bear in each other’s lives individually and through the preaching of the Word corporately