A New Partnership with Christ
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
God created man with a great purpose, to reflect His character. His character will be reflected in these areas: 1. A relationship with Him, 2. Within family, 3. With all of creation and 4. In our relationship to work.
Because there are people who are not aware of the need to reflect God’s image or don’t want to do that, we have a new purpose after the fall.
In Genesis 4 we see a genealogy of Cain that includes Lamech. That is a branch of the human race that is not living to reflect the image of God. They define themselves by their own abilities and act in accordance with their own desires. Lamech brags about killing several men who displeased him.
There is also a genealogy of Adam and Seth down to Noah. This indicates two lines of people in the world, those who trust and follow God’s created design and those who do not. Apparently, those not following God are the larger group as we come to the flood we see that the thoughts and intents of the heart of man are only evil all the time. This is a long way from reflecting God’s image. God responds to the spoiling of His created design by flooding the earth and starting over with Noah’s family.
A new purpose: 5.
This idea of a division of people into folks who follow Jesus and folks who do not is consistent in Scripture. And it is a part of the purpose of those who follow Jesus to encourage those who do not follow Jesus to follow Him. That is what this passage of Scripture that we are looking at today focuses on.
The curse of sin separates people from God, but we see consistently that those who have a reconciled relationship with God are also called to serve Him in a partnership of ministry in the world.
Just as Noah preached to his generation, we are all called to communicate with ours!
From our passage today, we see that this partnership begins with prayer. The harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few, so pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into the harvest!
- Partners with Others Through Prayer
- Paul’s partners are many
The end of this letter, like many of Paul’s letters has a list of ministry partners. Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, John Mark, Titus, Onesimus etc.
Ephesians 6 is similar to this passage. Paul says:
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
- Prayer matters to the recipient
It matters to Paul. It mattered to Jesus in the Garden, “Can you not pray and watch with me?” It matters to me. The partnership is real. The prayers build faith in God!
Phil 1: Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
- Pray for effective participation
3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
- Pray for opportunity for ministry. For an open door, a listening ear etc. We want to see people open to understanding the gospel.
- Pray for Paul to proclaim the truth about Jesus, which folks do not yet understand.
- Pray for Paul to have clarity
- Pray for Paul to have boldness
- Pray for Paul to not be afraid
As you share the truth of Colossians with people, then Paul would see you as a ministry partner as well.
And I would include Jesus in this as well.
Beyond praying for others, this passage has a call to personal action! In verse 5…
- Partners with Christ in Action
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
- Ministering to people’s needs like Jesus
All ministry is first to God and for God. (Forgiveness is a classic example.)
This frees us from “owing” love. All love is free.
Peter’s description of Jesus’ work:
Acts 10: 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
United Methodist Church: Manna House, Help Network
Westside Church of Christ: Food boxes on Monday night
City Church: Paying off old medical debt, car maintenance for the poor
Connect Church: Crawford Elementary ministry
Russellville First Assembly: Community Christian School, Daycare,
First Baptist Church: Help Network, Celebrate Recovery etc.
- Agents of God’s mercy
We must not wait until people deserve help to help them.
Helping to save others from self-destructive behaviors. Mercy is not getting what you deserve, but a positive result instead.
God is patient and merciful and it allows for repentance. We need to understand that this is true of us, and then apply the same attitude and action toward others. How long? Until God releases us.
I believe that deliverance is giving someone a foothold. Because we must all choose to follow Christ. We must all take steps of faith and obedience if we are going to change and have life.
Jesus fed the 5,000 in order for the people to have an opportunity to have life. They wanted bread. He did not feed them forever.
- Acts of Love and Service
John 13:1-5, 12-17
13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Think about this foot washing in the context of them arguing about which of them was the greatest. We are not competing against each other.
Greatness is available through service. Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant. (an autobiographical reference)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,
I John 3: 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
II Cor 5: 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Faith= Believe that God is there. And that God rewards those who seek Him diligently! The reward is a reconciled relationship with God, which is the opposite of death, it is life. It is an event and an ongoing process.
III. Partner with Christ in Words
6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
- Conversations full of grace
Grace means that God has given what we did not deserve. He has provided an opportunity for life regardless of where you find yourself. There is hope in Christ.
But that hope is only brought to reality in those who repent and believe in Jesus! Jesus is no lucky rabbit’s foot. Jesus is no crutch, He is a life support system.
Any conversation that we have with people that gives them more information about God is evangelism. If people don’t believe that God exists, then there is not much reason to explain the gospel, we should talk about why we believe God is there and talk about our interactions with God.
- Words that act as a preservative
Salt is a preservative. It allows food to last when it is not plentiful.
“You are the light of the world.”
“You are the salt of the earth.”
You can speak words to people that direct them toward life. You can do this in whatever context that they are in where they have a need.
Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy. He seeks to destroy the image of God in man. He does this by leading people to act in accordance with their fleshly desires. Lamech is the classical example here. Acting in accordance with your fleshly desire leads to violence, selfish service at the expense of others, sexual immorality, hatred, not viewing others with the respect that they deserve, greed and it’s inherent “all sorts of evil.” Etc.
- Words of wisdom that direct others to life
“So that you know how to answer everyone.”
This does not mean that we have the answer to every question to the satisfaction of others. It means that we know how to explain to people how to have life. What does God say about your life and about how you can live best.
Ecclesiastes 12: 11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
If I can ask God for wisdom, then you can ask God for wisdom.
If I can help you get connected to God then you can have the Holy Spirit directing your life.
If I can get you to understand and apply the Scripture to your life, then I can help you to establish priorities that will lead you in life and light.
John 8: 12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”