We thought last week about the Amazing Grace that Almighty God has given us – Grace that has transformed our lives and our hopes. It was Grace that inspired Martin Luther to seek to purify the Church of his day – a Church where standards had fallen and where practices, like the selling of indulgences for forgiving sins – had brought the Church into disrepute.
It was God’s Grace that enabled Luther to stand up against the Church authorities – and to succeed in discrediting the practice. And it was God’s Grace that brought about the Reformation and the Protestant Church.
And Grace, we reminded ourselves, is God’s gift – totally free, totally undeserved, a gift from God – given freely and without any cost to us – a gift that we could never earn or gain for ourselves – a gift that has transformed the lives of us all.
And here in Colossians we find Paul speaking of that Grace to the small church there. And he shows us how vital this Grace is in their lives – and ours.
It is through God’s Grace that we have sure and certain hopes for the future. In this life, yes of course, but especially in the future life that God has promised us. It is a hope that gives us the certainty that our lives are more than fruitful here on earth – and the certainty that there is a far greater life that we hope for – eternally.
Paul makes it clear to the Colossians that the more they embrace the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so their hope will grow and their future will become more and more secure.
That is just one of the many promises that God has made to US and WE know God’s promises will always come true!
So as our faith grows, and we come closer to God, so our understanding of God’s Grace will grow.
The more we understand the incredible story of God’s interaction with us, the people of earth, so too we will realize how incredibly transforming is the Grace of God which God so willingly pours out upon us.
Anybody could be excused for wondering why God bothers with us. We try to follow God’s Commands – after all they are not that difficult to understand – we try to follow the example of Jesus and follow His Commands to love others as we love ourselves. We do our best to show love and compassion to others whenever we can, but even the best of us gets things wrong. In fact, it seems to be in our nature to get things wrong!
We know that the one thing that makes the difference is God’s Grace – that makes the difference.
So Paul ties in the two great attributes of the Christian life: Faith and Love.
Without either or both of these our Christian lives would be worthless and we would not live up to the standard God wants from us:
- No matter how loving we may be, without faith we would not be able to meet the example that Jesus sets for us. Even the person with the deepest sense of love could not live up to God’s example of true selfless love, without the faith that enables us to believe in Jesus’ life;
- And without love, no matter how strong our faith in God is, our faith would be empty, and it would seem like a pointless exercise.
FAITH AND LOVE ARE THE ESSENCE OF OUR CHRISTIANITY
So Paul reminds the Christians in Colossae – and you and me – of the essence of our faith:
- The Gospel –the Good News – is the Truth about God. And the truth about God is in front of us – it is the Jesus.
- The Gospel is not a history book – it is the telling of the Good News about God. God is a Friend and Lover of us all. And knowing that friendship and love puts us in the right place with God.
- The Gospel is Universal. It is for everybody. Not for one country, or one race, or one language, or one class, or one creed. It is for all.
- The Gospel is to be active. It is to bear fruit and growth. It has the power to change the sinner into a good person, and to transform the selfish and the cruel into people who love and care for friend or stranger.
- The Gospel is to be shared – it is a gift from God, but not to be kept selfishly to ourselves, but to be shared by word, by action, and by love. It is a privilege to receive the Gospel but is comes with the responsibility to share it with others.
- And the Gospel is God’s gift to us, coming as it does from God – it is not a list of God’s demands for us to follow, instead it tells us what God is offering us. The Gospel is God’s totally amazing gift to us.
This is the Grace of God to you and to me – the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.