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I is for Intentional

October 20, 2013

D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E.

I is for Intentional

Col. 4:2-6

 

Intro:  Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ doesn’t just happen.  You have to be purposeful about it, or today we’ll use the word “Intentional”.  But intentional about what?  For starters, intentional about the things we’ve defined in the past four weeks which are:

D = Devoted

I  = Imitator

S = Sacramental

C = Community

I = Intentional

 

In Paul’s final words in his letter to the Colossians, he hits on some of this intentionality.  As we look at 4:2-6 we can break these instructions in to two places they are to be applied.  One is being intentional with other disciples and the other is outside the church among those who don’t believe.  So let’s read that passage together.  Read all.

 

Intentional with other disciples  (2-4)

It takes intentionality to be devoted.  And the call here is to be intentionally devoted to prayer.  I will say again, as I have said in the past, there is always room for a spontaneous prayer shot heavenward, but those prayers cannot replace prayer that happens on purpose and with purpose. 

 

Paul says: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  The word translated “watchful” has been interpreted in a variety of ways, but no matter what the final verdict, the idea is that when we pray we are attentive to what we are doing, we pray on purpose.  I confess that I don’t always do this.  Sometimes I’m not all in for what I’m praying.

 

Paul goes on to counsel them to pray for him, for the ministry leaders.  But do you see what specifically Paul wants them to pray for?  For their ability and opportunity to proclaim the gospel.  That it would be proclaimed clearly and boldly.  If you are ever wondering how to pray for me, this would be a great place to start!  By the way, those of you praying that Kirstyn would find a friend, when we saw her Friday, one of the first thing she said was, “I’m making a new friend!” From the bottom of my “Mom-heart” thank you!  Don’t stop!

 

Again, if we read through the other epistles we will find how we are to live together as the body of Christ but for this week, let’s focus on the job of praying on purpose for one another.  We heard the requests.  I’m going to read back through them now.  If you would be willing to intentionally pray for one I’d like you to just raise your hand.  This will be your assigned prayer task for the week.  If you need to know more specifics, ask the person who lifted up the request to start with, or ask God how you are to pray.

 

The next part of our passage deals with life outside of the church.

 

Intentional with those outside the church (5-6)

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

 

This is such wise instruction as our world becomes more and more removed from the life of the church and the person of Jesus Christ.  The numbers of “outsiders” is increasing.  A life of discipleship is becoming more foreign.  The way of Christ and truth are becoming less understood.  And in order for persons on the outside to be introduced to Christ and the redemption and forgiveness he gives, we have to take the message to them.

 

Do we have a plan?

 

First, we have to be faithful disciples ourselves.  As a congregation and as individuals we need to live out our faith in such a way that it is appealing to others.  We have to love God first and also one another. 

 

Second, we have to love the people who don’t think like we think; who don’t live like we live; who don’t love God the way we love God.  And our attitude cannot be, “I’ve got it right and you’ve got it wrong, so change.” But rather, “I know something life changing that I want you to experience too.”

 

So what are Paul’s instructions?

  • Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; Part of that wisdom means to acknowledge that they may not think the same way you do about ethics, the world, the church.  We can’t assume that everyone has a church upbringing or even knows the name of Jesus. 

 

  • make the most of every opportunity.  This is another way of saying, “Be intentional with every opportunity.”  What sort of opportunities come you way to take Christ into the world?  For many of you opportunity presents itself every day that you go to work!  I love hearing your stories about how the topic of God comes up and how you have the opportunity to share your life with someone.  And I’m sure I don’t hear half of them!

 

Others of us, have to go looking for those opportunities.  This is one reason that Barry and I do theater in the summer.  We get to be among a lot of “outsiders” and love them.  Barry met Sue during Hairspray and after she got over the shock that he was a pastor and wondering about all the inappropriate things she had said up to that point, they became friends.  She became comfortable talking with him.  We met up again in Les Miserable and by the middle of rehearsals, she was asking about how to read the Bible, how to find a church and if maybe Barry could give her a lesson on “Church for Dummies”.  We stay in touch.  We pray she stays hungry for God and this story has been a good reminder to me that we need to check in and follow up.

 

Make the most of every opportunity.  If you are with people, one will come up every day.  It may be how you conduct yourself in public during a stressful situation.  It may be how you react to the gossip that gets passed to you.  It may be in how you treat the next telemarketer who calls.  Make the most of every opportunity.

 

  • Paul even gives us a “how to” when the opportunity arises:  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Everyone you meet will have some perception of the Church and many will have a perception of this particular church.  How we handle ourselves in conversation with these folks ought to leave them with the truth of who we are.

 

I feel a word of caution and instruction is due.  We have made a bold choice as a church.  We have taken a stand for the truth revealed to us in Scripture and as a result have felt the need to separate ourselves from the PCUSA.  Because we view the truth of the gospel differently than the denomination and many in the world, we may get tagged as: haters, intolerant, ignorant, etc.  So, what will we do to show that we are not those things?  Paul tells us: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

 

A conversation with Kirstyn helped to put this in perspective.  She is in a class in which she is asked to share her opinion about different plays.  She has a different perspective than others in her class but when she tries to say, “The acting was brilliant but I didn’t like the plot” she is immediately met with, “Oh, but you have to like the plot!  You just don’t understand!”  She is shut down. Silenced.  Not allowed to express her thoughts or feelings.  Judged.  If she speaks, it then becomes a debate.  A debate is when two persons with opposing views try to outshout each other.  A discussion is when two persons with opposing views try to understand each other.  I do believe that Paul is telling us to take part in the latter. 

 

Learn to ask questions.  Learn not to assume that everyone is thinking like you’re thinking.  Don’t be afraid of differences.  Don’t be afraid to share what you understand to be true. Let your intention be in every conversation to represent Christ, to speak on his behalf and to love on his behalf.

 

Concl.  Colossians 4:2-6 shows that God is concerned both about our personal prayer life and our interaction with the world. He cares both about the prayer closet and the public street, and He wants us to care about both also.  And beyond caring, he would call us to be intentional about entering into both.  Now, go do this, and in so doing be a living stone that is being built up into the Kingdom of God.