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Is Tomorrow Monday? Again?

August 31, 2014

Colossians 3:12-17

“Is Tomorrow Monday? Again?”

Read:  Col 3:12-17

Intro:  Monday’s get a bad rap.  If you have to go back to work, there is often a little moaning and groaning about another work week ahead.  Why is that?  Why do we feel that way towards our vocation?  Is it because we fail to see what we do as a calling from God?  Is it because we’ve overlooked the opportunity to be the hands and feet of God in our work?

How we live matters. 

As those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives it really matters. 

The way we choose to live impacts the power of the message of the Gospel.

It matters because people are watching us to see how a person who is a Christian is supposed to respond to situations they encounter at work, at school, at play.

It matters because we belong to God and have confessed as much and we are his agents in the world we live in.

How we view the world, and the vocations we are called to carry out, matter.

The understanding we have of: God, God’s purpose for us, God’s purpose for the world; shapes and molds the why and how of what we do.

Your being a Christian is important not only on Sunday or at a church function, but in the whole of your life:  All day, every day, in every situation.

What does this look like in reality?  Let’s look at a few scenarios.

If you are a Christian and a stay at home parent, your understanding of God’s desire for your family, for your children and of your calling as a parent is going to guide the way you parent and keep your home.  In contrast, if you felt your life at home was imprisonment and your children were the guards, your intent would be escape rather than to focus on the needs of your children and home.

If you are a Christian and an airline pilot, your task is to land the plane.  Your understanding of God’s calling in your life to be a pilot and your understanding that every life given by God is worth valuing and keeping safe will inspire you to land that plane, every time, the best you can.  If your mindset is not the people put in your care in the air, then you will perhaps not attend to their well being beyond what is necessary to keep your job.

If you are a Christian and a contractor or builder, your task is to create shelter for people that will provide for their needs.  How you understand God’s calling in your life to build and how you value your customers as humans made in the image of God will help determine how much attention you put into the work that you do.  In contrast if you were to see your customer merely as a source of income, it would shape the work you did for them.  It may lead you to cut corners, not be as concerned about safety, etc.

If you are a Christian and a teacher, how you view the child in your classroom and God’s call on your life to teach will shape how you teach.  Do you understand that each child in your care is meant to flourish and grow?  Then that will shape how you teach them – regardless of the demands of standardized testing because it is attitude and character that speak the loudest.

Our theology of work matters.  We take God into our vocations every day.  God goes in every bag.  God doesn’t leave us when we leave the church house.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t just show up in worship, burn brightly and then get put under a bushel when we receive the benediction.

This may not be something we often take the time to think about so let me ask the question of you now.  Why do you do what you do?  Do you have a sense of God’s calling on your life as it is right now?  Whether it be working or care-giving, being retired or a student, are you aware that God intends to be honored in the whole of your life right now?

How?  There are particulars as the examples I’ve given show, but in a broad sense we can return to what Paul wrote to the church at Colossae.  Let’s look a little more closely at the passage.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,

Christians!  This is your identity.  Understand the meaning of this!  You are chosen by God for His purposes.  Every human being exists to glorify God, but you who are redeemed by Christ are aware of it!  We need to live fully into this identity not with a sense of boastfulness but with a sense of awe, gratitude and responsibility.

God has chosen you with all your gifts, talents and weird quirks to be his own, to be his agent in whatever tasks you are currently involved in.           

Having refocused his reader’s attention on who they are, Paul continues by laying out the characteristics a person of their identity will practice.  Note that these are not things we pick up and do when it seems right.  These are qualities we wear – as in we would be naked without them. 

Paul’s list reminds us of how we are to appear in public and private.  It’s a long list.  And maybe it’s difficult to identify those things you are wearing so lets see if we can look at their opposites.  I’ll try not to pick on one profession but I’ve used whatever example first came to mind.

                       

  • Compassion  –apathy, lack of concern or caring.  Which of those two goes to work with you?  Which one does your customer see?  How about your student or those you coach?  How about your patient?  When we are responsible for other human beings, inside and outside of the church are we motivated by concern for them, for the situation they are coming from or going home to?
  • Kindness – cruelty.  Of course we’re never cruel on purpose, but what about the sarcasm we use or the flippant comment we make because it is amusing?  I wonder how many people come across our path in a day who leave crushed because we were funny instead of kind.  Oh, we never intended to be mean, but if we are not wearing kindness, we’re wearing something else and it shows.
  • Humility – pride: a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.  Pride keeps us from admitting we’ve made a mistake.  It keeps us from saying we’re sorry.  Pride is often a cover up for the insufficiency we feel.  I’ve met a person lately who is in a new position and working hard to establish themselves.  They are excellent at what they do and I wish them the best.  However, they are a bit insecure in their new endeavor and I have not sensed any humility in the room when I am with them.  I would describe them as arrogant, but I’m pretty sure it’s a symptom of insecurity.  Does that resonate with anyone?  I’m pretty sure I can make that shoe fit myself from time to time.
  • Gentleness – harsh.  I’ve heard several teachers and coaches in my lifetime say, “I’m not here to wipe your hiney’s or dry your tears.  I’m not your momma.” “I’m here to win!” Or something to that effect.  Sorry, teachers, coaches, etc. but you are the ones I’ve had the most experience with!  Especially with the disintegration of the family in our culture, the children you have in your class or on your team need some gentleness.  Do they need to be challenged and encouraged?  Yes!  But can you do that wearing gentleness?  Yes!  I am married to a man who wears his gentleness everywhere.  For the past 10 years he has taken that into the first grade in Wyalusing.   Every end of school he brings home cards and gifts from the teachers and classes thanking him for listening to them read, or helping them out.  We have a choice about what we’re going to wear.  Choose wisely.
  • Patience - annoyance, complaining, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.  Which are you known for?  Which do you put on in the morning.  Some of us really don’t think about what we’re wearing once we get up!
  • Forgive – resentment, the feeling that you are owed something by another, holding a grudge.  If we were to wear forgiveness, being aware that no matter who you encounter in a day they are sinners, capable of great evil and open to receive the life transforming grace of God, how many lives might be introduced to Jesus?  If someone knows you go to church and yet experiences your un-forgiveness, what does that say to them about what it means to be a Christian?
  • Love – displeasure.  What vibe to folks get from you when you are at work or with your family?  Do they sense your displeasure or your love?

Concl.  Today we are commissioning all of you who must go out into the world to minister.  What will you wear?  Will you serve your calling and live into your vocation on behalf of Christ?  Will you choose carefully what you will put on?

Benediction:    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,

                         since as members of one body you were called to peace.

                         And be thankful.  

                         Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly

                         as you teach and admonish one another

                                                with all wisdom

                                                through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,

                                                            singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 

                        And whatever you do,

                                    whether in word or deed,

                                                do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,

                                                            giving thanks to God the Father through him.