On our recent trip to Alabama to see the kids, we used the GPS to help us stay on track. I’ll never stop being amazed at how the GPS lady knows where we are, where we’re going, how to get us there, how long it will take and then yells at me when I make an unscheduled stop or change the route we’re taking.
I need that - not the yelling but the help to navigate the journey. Someone who knows what’s ahead, what’s the best road to take, where the stopping places are for gas or food. Someone who knows the things we don’t know. Someone who can give clear directions.
A British Admiral sent out this notice. “It is necessary for technical reasons, that these warheads be stored bottom-side-up, that is, with the top at the bottom and the bottom at the top. That there be no doubt which is the bottom, and which is the top, the top of each warhead has been labeled with the word top!”
Directions need to be clear, understandable and easy to follow.
- On a sign on an exit door. You are required by law to smoke 20 feet from the door.
- Another sign: No standing or sitting.
- On a bar of soap: Directions: Use like regular soap. What if I don’t know how to use regular soap?
- On a Japanese food processor: Not to be used for the other use. Like mixing paint?
- On a bottle of laundry detergent: Remove clothing before distributing in washing machine. I don’t even want to know what that means.
- In an elevator in a Japanese hotel: Push this button in case anything happens.
Directions need to be clear, understandable and easy to follow. Why? Because we want a successful outcome.
After hours of traveling, the words we long to hear from our GPS Lady are: You’ve reached your destination. The trip is done and we’ve arrived. That’s it. All we wanted was to get from point A to point B. We succeeded.
It’s easy to think the only purpose for the journey is arriving at our destination, as if arriving was a task to complete.
The objective of many churches is to do ministry as if completing tasks. Like getting as many people as they can to receive the Lord in salvation. Or obsessing over getting people to join the church. These aren’t wrong objectives but rarely do those churches help people travel on the journey. Now that I am saved, what’s next? Ok, I’m a member, now what? Salvation or joining is not the destination. They are actually beginning points – one with the Lord, the other with a body of believers.
Jesus never said: Get everybody saved or get as many as you can to join the church. He said: Make disciples. A disciple is one who travels with a teacher to learn and experience life with him. A disciple’s life is changed over time as he conforms to the teaching of his master.
So, the question is: what does it mean, now that I belong to the Lord and how does belonging to Him change my life?
I admit, when I travel, I need the GPS Lady. I need help navigating the trip. I don’t know what’s ahead. I can only see what’s right in front of me. I’ve never been down this road before, so I need someone to guide me.
What’s our GPS for life? The Spirit of God indwelling us and illuminating Scripture to help us navigate the journey. He knows what’s coming, what’s going to change, what’s going to remain the same. So, let’s go back into Colossians and see what God told us through Paul.
Col 2:6-12 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Col 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
In this section, Paul draws the Colossians a line in the sand that reminds them which side of that line they are on. Not just to show them where they are positionally. But to remind them, because they had received Christ Jesus the Lord, there are now expectations. Because we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, those same expectations apply to us.
The expression as you have received expresses a certain form in Greek that places the action on the one who did the receiving. Not you were received by Jesus (though technically, in the big picture you were – He receives us into the Family of God) but Paul is saying to them: you actively received Jesus into your life. You fulfilled your part of John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
Salvation is offered by the Lord as an invitation to be received and accepted. The invitation isn’t the salvation. It is the opportunity to be saved. Accepting is the RSVP part of the invitation. Our response completes our part of the invitation. We do not invite ourselves. God, through the Holy Spirit, invites us to Himself.
We receive salvation by saying yes to God’s invitation. In that moment, we are declared Children of God. But being declared Children of God isn’t the destination, we have simply begun the journey of being Children of God.
In Paul’s day, almost any journey involved walking, so, Paul says walk in Him.
- walk in newness of life
- not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit
- walk by faith, not by sight
- walk by the Spirit
- good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them
- walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called
- walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind
- walk in love
- walk, not as unwise men but as wise
- walk according to the pattern you have in us
- walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects
- walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory
When Paul says: So walk in Him – he means Go on walking in Him. Live within the effect of Jesus having changed your life by walking consistent with those changes.
Reordering our life toward God’s expectations begins with understanding it is God’s expectations we are accountable to not our own.
Sy Billups, was arrested for public drunkenness and brought before Judge Vernon Dinkle. The Bailiff called Sy’s name and asked him to stand. Judge Dinkle said, “Mr. Billups, You are charged with Public Drunkenness. How do you plead?”
Sy, having been in this spot many times, knew full well what awaited him, so he decided a new tactic. He said, “Your Honor, if you don’t mind, I would like to try myself”. The judge pushed back in his chair, grinned and said , “OK, let’s hear it.”
Sy began, “Sy you are a low down, no good pole-cat of a man, who has abandoned every opportunity to change. You’ve spent your whole life thinking of nothing but your own
“But you find no mercy today, because you don’t deserve it.” And he looked up at the judge and said, “Your Honor, I find myself guilty as charged, and I sentence myself to a $100.00 fine and 30 days in jail. And I pray that God will help me understand the wickedness of my ways.”
Judge Dinkle was visibly impressed, he said, “Sy, I think you really mean it this time. I commend you and will support your verdict.” At which, Sy interrupted the Judge and said, “Your honor, I have one more thing to say. I suspend my sentence!”
The expectations for how we walk is not our call but God’s. We do not accept His salvation then decide how we want to live it or whether or not we want to live it.
1Thess 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.
Micah 4:2 Many nations will come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths."
Col 2:7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
Did you know that we can believe things that aren’t true? We might believe things about God that aren’t true. We might believe things about ourselves that aren’t true. We might believe things that have formed our theology that aren’t true. At many times in my past I held certain beliefs and then on further study had to change those beliefs. I heard some teacher with great credentials teaching error but did so, so convincingly, I thought it was true. I followed the practices of certain denominations and thought it was right to do so. I have read books with such convincing arguments that I fell for their conclusions. I’ve been misled. We can be misled.
Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
In Colossae, men were measuring Jesus by their own lives, not the other way. They compared Jesus with other men or ideas or standards. They placed their understanding and practices above Jesus. For them, their interest was in how they chose to relate to Jesus, not how Jesus wanted to relate to them.
Paul had already established Jesus as Lord over all. Yet even those who knew He was Lord didn’t practice that Lordship. They were easily deceived into making Him less than Lord in their lives. Which would affect how they walked.
So, he gives them a little perspective. He reminds the Colossians they are the product of Jesus’ work. He is the one who paid the price. He’s the one who made them who they were. He is the one with the greatest authority over the issues of their lives. He is the one who could make them able to live faithfully before Him.
Col 2:9-11 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
Removal of the body of the flesh– taking off a garment. But notice who did the removal. He took it off and put it out of the way.
That single act is the most liberating of the gifts Jesus gave us to enable us to live a good and godly life. He set us free from the power of who we were or who we are without Him.
Rom 6:11-12 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
The greatest competition for walking in Him is the struggle with our flesh wanting to be in charge. Our competing desires – either physical, emotional or sensual – wanting to take charge of our lives.
Gal 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Jesus made the urging of our flesh resistible so we can walk unhindered by our past or present influences. But the choice of resisting rests with us.
Col 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
What’s buried? Our old identity of who we were before salvation. Our old way of life is dead to us as we surrender to Jesus as our Lord. He removed the power of the flesh so we could walk with Him.
Rom 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Because of what He did to separate us from the contrary urgings of our flesh, we can walk in the life He has given us.
Elijah asked the people: how long will you hesitate between two opinions? Joshua told the people to choose whom they would follow. James said: a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. The people were caught living in indecision of who they were and who they had chosen to be.
An old West African proverb which says, "The man who tries to walk two roads will split his pants."
Col 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
As is a settled issue. We have received. That’s a done deal. Which now presents us with settling the choice of the walk. The walk is our challenge. Will we walk in Him? Or will we walk around Him or away from Him to fulfill our own desires.
- God gives us two choices in salvation.
- One is whether we will receive the gift of the opportunity to belong to Him.
- Second is how we will live because we belong to Him.
- If we receive the one, we must understand we are obligated to the other.