Recently, I shared from Colossians 1 verses 1 to 14 with the New City IPC leadership team.
I am struck by the words of excitement Paul uses in this opening chapter – “ALL the saints”, “the WHOLE world”, “you may be FILLED”, “ALL spiritual wisdom”, “bearing fruit in EVERY good work.” There is such language of “bigness.”
Paul is onto something that we need to hear in verse 6 – “in the whole world it (that is the gospel) is bearing fruit and growing.” Paul understands that this thing we call “the gospel” is changing the world.
In the same way the gospel is alive. Paul says it is growing. There is a movement to the gospel that is built in. God is on the move. He is redeeming this world and the vehicle for that redemption is the church. And church planting is a key part of the normal pattern God uses to bring change.
But how do we get from an intellectual idea that God is on the move to the emotional excitement that Paul seems to have?
Paul has this excitement because he is grounded in the truth of who God is. This is a faith is rooted in the truth. We hear echos of this idea over and over again:
“the hope that is laid up for you in heaven” – our faith is rooted in the knowledge that God has a future for us
“the word of the truth, the gospel” – the gospel contains concrete ideas about who God is and how he works
“asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” – Paul’s prayer for the people focuses on their knowledge and understanding of God
Truth is needed because the truth of the gospel feeds our faith and our emotional state. We can have confidence that even in difficult circumstances – and we will have those together as a new church – God is at work. Faith comes from having a deep understanding of who God is and how He is working. We need to take the facts of the “big” gospel and drive them deeper into our lives so that they impact our emotions and our outlook on life.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5 that we are to “live by faith not by sight”. Living by sight is looking at my surroundings and letting that impact my emotional state.
Living by faith says, “Yes, Jesus, I know that you love us no matter what happens. I know you are in control of this world. I will not let my emotions be ruled by what I see right now in front of me.”
This moves the “big” gospel down into our lives as we take the truth and apply it to our situation. This moves from the big ideas about who God is and what he is doing and brings the gospel down to our situations. May God give us the grace to never forget the “big” gospel as we seek to serve together here in West London.