Thursday 10 August
Jago Wynne is the Rector of Holy Trinity Clapham and formerly served at All Souls Langham Place and Holy Trinity Brompton. His is an author and has a passion to help people connect their faith in Jesus to their everyday lives! Here is a summary of his message on Thursday evening at New Horizon:
I’ve been here for 36 hours and it seems to me that the sun always shines in Northern Ireland! Last night, we looked at the first half of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Tonight we are looking at chapters 3 and 4.
Reading from Colossians 3: 1 – 17
As we move tonight into chapters 3 and 4 of Paul’s letter, we are reminded straight away that the Holy Spirit – Christ in you – transforms you and me! Our theme verse is Colossians 1:27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Christ in US Transforms our Status
We thought last night of how we are full in Christ, we are not lacking in any way. Here we are raised with Christ. The Holy Spirit, Christ resident in you, transforms our status instantly.
Christ in us Transforms our Desires
Our desires as Christians are transformed over time. This is why we are filled and we go on being filled by the Spirit. We need the on-going work of the Spirit.
v2 says, “Set your minds on things above…” This doesn’t mean that we should not think about everyday things like work and marriage. To understand v2 we need to look to v5 – put to death those things that belong to your “earthly nature”. When Paul says, “Set your minds on things above…” he is saying, don’t set your mind on the things that are listed in verse 5 (e.g. immorality, greed, etc.)
The whole of v5 is talking about things that are idolatrous. Don’t have earthly things that take the place of God. Don’t have things that you desire more than God. Don’t have idols. Sometimes even good things become such a large focus for us that they become an addiction.
What have we set our hearts and minds on? What are our “me” addictions? What things knock God off the top spot?
When good things become “god” things then they become bad things.
Paul says, put these things to death. Rid yourselves of them. But how do we do that? How do we have our desires transformed? Too often we think this is something we have to do in our own strength and effort.
The NIV has changed the heading from “Rules for Holy living” to “Living as those made alive in Christ.” This is not just us trying to be kind, compassionate, loving, etc. It is about Jesus renewing us by His Spirit.
Some people love long walks. I’m not one of them. If you go for a walk then before lunch you are carrying all your food and drink in your backpack and it can get heavy. After lunch, your backpack is lighter because the food is now within you. It is giving you strength and energy to keep going.
When we begin to live like that, empowered by the Spirit, then we begin to transform the world.
Look at v17 “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him.”
How does the Holy Spirit transform the world through us?
The story is told of a man who lost his case with the Advertising Standards Agency against the manufacturer of Mr. Muscle. The man had misunderstood the purpose of “Mr. Muscle” cleaning products. Read the whole story here.
We can misunderstand the purpose of New Horizon. The primary purpose is not to have a good time and that you long to come back here next year. The primary purpose of this week is for us to go back home from here, increasingly equipped and empowered by the Spirit to live for Jesus each and every day. The mission we have been given is clear – we are to represent Jesus to the world. We are to make a difference for Jesus wherever we are. Do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. We are His representatives here on earth.
We are already holy and dearly loved but these practicalities in Colossians are supposed to help us be better representatives of Jesus. That is why Paul is being intensely practical. He is spelling out what it means in daily life:
- Col 3: 1 – 11 Jesus is Lord in our personal life
- Col 3:12 – 17 Jesus is lord in our relationship with other Christians
- Col 3: 18 – 21 Jesus is Lord in our family relationships
- Col 3: 22 – 4:1 Jesus is Lord in our work relationships
- Col 4:2 -6 Jesus is Lord in our relationships with those who aren’t yet Christians.
Your mission is to represent Jesus to the world.
Double-Life Christian Syndrome
The danger is that when God looks at us He sees two different people. We lack integrity; we are dis-integrated. Let me give you a couple of personal examples. After the seminars, I was pushing a buggy with our youngest in it and our second child was perched on top of the buggy. Someone walked past and said, “That’s a relief; you are human.” I think what he meant was, “You maybe a shiny church pastor up front but your parenting is chaos.” I thought, “You should have been in the car with me this morning!!”
A few years ago I was working as a Management Consultant. We had to spend five minutes in a pair with someone we worked with and we had to tell them how we saw them (strengths and weaknesses) and they did the same with you. I will never forget what one person said to me. He said the nice things and then he said, “Jago, you are too focused on whatever you are dong. Often I will come and I will ask you a question and you will give me the answer but you are not interested in me. You don’t chat to me or ask me how I am.” That hit me. Here was I, the only Christian in that department and I was told that I did not have time for other people in that department. I was dis-integrated. I lived as though I didn’t have any time for my work colleagues.
All of us have heroes in our Christian faith. What makes them heroes is, above all, their integrity. What you see is what you get. For me, this was John Stott. Through his writings, he has made a greater theological impact on me than any other writer other than the Bible. The reason he made such an impression on me wasn’t because of his writings but because of his integrity (like a seaside piece of rock he was the same all the way through). The message of his life and words were consistent. Integrity is so attractive.
One writer said, “Religion is not just an act of homage paid on our knees… ‘til our Christianity appears in our conversations, in our business, in our pleasures,… we have not conformed to the image of our Saviour, nor have we learnt his Gospel aright.”
A servant girl joined and church she was asked, “What makes you think you really are a child of God?” She said, “Well there is a great change in me.” She was asked, “What is that change?” She answered, “Sir, I now sweep under the door mat.” – great answer.
How do we represent Jesus to the world?
Above all, it is through a Spirit-empowered inner live. When our life with God is not sufficient to sustain our work for God, then we will find ourselves struggling with integrity. We will only be good representatives of Jesus when our inner life is sufficiently fuelling us.
Paul says in Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly.” Then he talks about singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Next he writes about giving thanks. Next he talks about wives and husband.
This is the same order of instructions Paul gives to the Ephesians but to them he tells them, “Be filled with the spirit.” These practical instructions are empowered by both Word and Spirit.
There are some people here this evening and you know that you are living a double life. Maybe this evening, God has been challenging you about the lack of integrity in your life. Perhaps in public or in private. Perhaps at church or at work. It would be wonderful to pray that the Spirit would transform you so that the Spirit can use you to transform the world.
Some feel that God is not all interested in what they do. Remember that you can represent God in your own setting. Whoever we are, we can be amazing representatives of the Lord Jesus in our own spheres, empowered by the spirit.
Christ is all we need. We have all fullness in Him. And Christ is in all, by the Holy Spirit, resident in us. What we have seen tonight He does not just transform us but also works through us to transform the world.
God inside out to bring those outside in.
Marsha belongs to my church. I had seen her but didn’t really know her. A couple of months ago it was the general election and I saw her name as one of the candidates for election. Marsha was elected MP for Battersea with a huge swing. I interviewed her in church. She said that set out not expecting to win. I asked her, “What is your desire as a Christian who is now an MP?” She answered, “I want to be a great representative of all my constituents in Parliament but even more than that, I want to be a great representative of Jesus Christ in Parliament.”
The simple question for each one of us this evening is, do we desire to represent Jesus to the world in the sphere in which we find ourselves?
Christ is all and Christ is in all.