Learning Love… Again
Text: Colossians 3: 12- 17
Proposition: To love in the name of Jesus is to take off the armour that keeps us safe and to love with a tender heart for only in this way will Christ’s love show.
Introduction: Last week we read the first verses of Colossians 3, it talked about the changes that happen when you become a Christian. The axiom that emerged from that was, “Since you aren’t who you were don’t do what you did.” In the first 11 verses Paul encourages us to put off the old ways of living, the chainmail of defences that were used to define us and were meant to provide some degree of protection against pain. It was a chainmail made up of anger, malice, lies, covetousness, fornication, wrath, uncleanness and foul language. His whole point is that this won’t protect you and in fact it blocks the ability of God’s power to move through you. In the next five verses he describes what God will direct His power through. He will empower that which accurately represents the image of His Son. The church is called the body of Christ and the power of God animates and inhabits that body when it moves in a manner that reflects Jesus. How can we do that, what does it look like? It looks like a soldier who hears the call and then follows the command of their captain. In John 13:34, 35 Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” Clearly Jesus wants all men to know you are His disciple and His method for accomplishing that is as simple as it is profound. Have a look at Colossians 3:12-17.
I. We Are Called To Care.
There’s this inference in our culture today that to not care somehow means you are stronger, we say things like, ‘whatever!!!’. In text messages short form has become more and more popular, WSIC…why should I care; LIC…like I care; DKDC…don’t know don’t care. Let’s throw some new terms out there…hey you’re the EOG, the elect of God; JCSDI, Jesus cares and so do I, so put on a TH... a tender heart. The point is we have been chosen by God, picked by Him and drawn to Him, we have been called to care. That means we put off things like anger and malice and seek to replace them with mercy, longsuffering, kindness, humility, meekness and forgiveness, forbearing with one another. All these are commands from your captain Jesus Christ, do this because by this Jesus will be seen. Do this because by these things my power will move through you and by this they will know who you are, My disciples. By this the way is paved for them to hear truth because now they have seen love. But love is not always easy to find nor is it easy to give. I had never heard of Gladys Alyward, she was a missionary in China in the 1930’s. In a radio interview with Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision and Samaritans Purse, she describes the time when she met the love of Christ in a very hard yet perfect circumstance. She’d been in China for about 2 years when she saw a rough looking mountain woman with a child sitting next her. The sun was so hot it would soon kill the child. When she stooped down to help the mountain woman gruffly tried to dismiss her and when that didn’t work she simply said to Gladys, “Do you want it, you can have it for $2.00.” Shocked and overwhelmed Alysworth walked away but in an hour or so she returned and the woman was still there with the child. This time the woman offered the child to her for one dollar. She had no means to care for a child, she had little money and just as she was about to again walk away something happened. “I can’t explain it neither can I forget it ever. It was as if someone brushed lightly against me. I didn’t see anybody, I felt something… Then it was as if a voice close by was saying, ‘You don’t want it, but I do.’ My mind asked, ‘Who are you?’ I am the One who bought you. It was the voice of Jesus Christ moving her forward. She did end up buying that child for the only money in her pocket, ninety cents. She concluded with this profound truth, “Now I don’t think we loved each other because we believed in each other. She loved me because I had bought her, I loved her because I had bought her… I bought that child because the Lord Jesus bought me and I truly believed He was asking me to buy her. The love was born through my buying her.” (This One Thing I Do, pp109-111)
Paul writes in verse 13, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” We are bonded to Christ, to each other and to His church. Because He bought us He loves us and because He has bought us we love Him. Let love be born in our hearts, put on love, we are called to care by being called to love.
II. We Are Called To Listen.
In verse 15 Paul writes, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Literally you were called to hear the peace of God direct you. This is part of what the power of God moving by you and in you looks like. That word, ‘rule’ has the meaning of being an umpire. Peace is meant to be like an umpire at work in our souls as the Spirit of God works within us. If I bow my will and heart to Him I will know His peace, it acts as the umpire in my life. It really doesn’t matter if I don’t agree with the umpire about what I think is fair or best, He’s the umpire and He calls them as He sees them. The effect in me will be either a confirming sense of His peace as I let it rule me or a distinct lack of it.
Either way we are called in one body to listen to the way God uses His peace to rule in us. The church is called to care and in order to do that the church is called to listen. The thing about listening is that it happens on several levels and sometimes all at once. It happens with the Spirit of God directing your conscience. Your response to that conviction will be confirmed by His peace. The second level of listening is when you listen to His word. Paul’s encouragement is that you, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…”. The word ‘dwell’ means to let Scripture have residence within your thinking and values and methods. Let the word have the power to clean house, not as a servant cleans your house but as a master that cleans out the clutter and the things that have become rotten or dead. Let the word dwell in you richly, know it’s counsel, know it’s location, know it’s context and then know it’s author. So we are called to listen to the Spirit of God as He uses peace to guide us and we are called to listen to the word of God that our house would be richly cared for. Then look at the last part of this great ‘3:16’ verse, “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” It would seem that we are also called to listen to one another. We are to teach and admonish one another but look at how he sees that happening by the whole body of the church to the whole body of the church. He sees it happening in the exercise of singing, singing the Psalms filled with praise and longing for God. It happens as we sing Hymns, songs full of doctrine and truth. It happens when we sing Spiritual Songs describing the heart of God, describing our worship with one another before the Living God. We are called to listen to each others hearts as we sing together the truth of Who He is. That teaches us and admonishes us in a very powerful way. Listen to what God is saying through your own lips and out of your own heart.
So why are we called to care and why are we called to listen? I think the answer is so that we would learn love, again.
Perhaps that’s why Paul has this next transitional sentence. It not only modifies what has just been said, it points to what he is about to say. The transitional sentence is this, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Whatever you do in putting on the new man, whatever you do in the way you care, whatever you do in how you listen to God, to His word and to each other, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. In the name of Jesus infers that your action is as His ambassador acting as His representative and upholding His interests. It also infers that when you act in such a way you also carry the authority and power of this King that you are an ambassador for.
You do what He would want you to do and what do you think that looks like? I think that it looks like a love for the Father that is full of praise and obedience. I think it looks like a love for those He bought. If you do all in word or deed in the name of the Lord Jesus you will learn love, again. It will wash your soul, it will reorient your life, it will reestablish relationship and it will overwhelm you with a thankful heart, to God the Father through Him.
Learn love, again.