Friday, 19 September 2014
Colossians 1:24-2:5 Recap: God’s Delivery System
I’ve been trying to send a birthday card to my daughter in Panama for over a month.
The card made me laugh out loud in the store, so I bought it, wrote her a birthday check and put it in the mail eight days before her birthday. I called her on her birthday and asked if she’d gotten it. “No, but maybe it’ll be in tomorrow’s mail.”
It did turn out to be in tomorrow’s mail, only it came back to my mailbox as undeliverable. She lives in Panama, so I wondered if I had needed to fill out a customs form. I went to Mailboxes, Etc. to get some help. It went back into the mail in a new envelope with the proper forms attached.
Two weeks later she still hadn’t gotten it. Tracking info showed it left Miami ten days ago, but we have no idea where it went from there. She was philosophical, “It probably went to the wrong country. It’ll get here eventually.”
I finally canceled the check and sent her the cash through PayPal. Why didn’t I think of that sooner?
God’s Delivery System. I take mail delivery for granted until it fails me. Then I realize how much I count on a dependable delivery system.
Paul was God’s delivery system. God had a message that was ready to be delivered. He had decided it was time to reveal his secret plan:
Christ in you, the hope of glory!
Jesus Christ, the Savior of the whole world was ready to invade the lives of all who believe in him and bring them to glory.
God entrusted this message to Paul and said, “Take it to the Gentiles.” The Colossian Church was one of the recipients of the message, relayed from Paul to Epaphras to them. This message had intercepted their lives and changed their timeline. It cleansed their past, transformed their present, and promised hope for their future.
We, too, are God’s delivery system. We may not have the same ministry–the entire Gentile world–but we are entrusted with the same message. Each of us has been entrusted with a stewardship from God: home, family, work, studies, neighborhood, friends. We carry the message with us into those spheres of influence and get opportunities to minister the great good news.
Suffering and Struggling. This sounds simple, but nothing in this fallen world is simple. It’s hard work to fulfill our stewardship. The baby cries for the third time that night. We stumble out of bed and pick her up, hoping the rest of the kids stay asleep. We comfort her, feed her, change her, and rock her. She’s too young to hear the message yet, but not too young to know the Father’s love through our care.
There’s suffering involved in our stewardship, too. We haven’t been thrown into prison yet, but we have fought our flesh on more than one occasion. Our boss accuses us of something we didn’t do and threatens us with dismissal. Every instinct of self-justification rises up in a flood of words. We write an angry email in response…then pause, pray, and hit delete. Our second response bears the marks of the gospel, and keeps the path clear for delivering the message.
Is it worth it? Multiply those examples by the number of days we live and depth of the trials we face. Is all that suffering and striving worth it? Yes. Because the message our lives and words deliver is glorious. But not just that.
The message is true for us, the messengers, too. “Christ in me” means that he’s in me as I seek to deliver him to others. He’s in me as I toil and labor to hold my tongue. He’s in me as I suffer sleepless nights and false accusations. He’s in me to strengthen me. And he’s in me to comfort me.
When I suffer, he says, “I know,” and wraps me in his arms. He holds me close and I remember how he suffered, too. And I know he knows how it feels. And I can’t wait to see him face to face.
Christ in me, my hope of glory.