Alive in Christ

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Contributed by Chad Seidler, Director of Ministry/Assistant to Lead Pastor of Image Church

A few weeks ago, my POD (which is what we call our weekly home groups at Image Church – “Points of Discipleship”) was discussing Colossians 2.  As we were discussing the chapter, I was fixated on the end of the chapter, when Paul warns the church of Colossae to not let anyone disqualify their work or mission.  Evidently, legalism, mysticism and asceticism were creeping into the church, and Paul felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to warn them before it got out of hand.

As I focused on these warnings in verses 16-23, my mind was flooded with how true this is in many churches today.  I have experienced many of these churches first-hand and have heard countless accounts of the same.  I thought to myself – “I’m going to have a field day writing about legalistic churches when I blog later this month.”  I couldn’t wait to pile it on, given my own experiences.  I could surely take Paul’s reigns and continue the tirade.  I have in the past.  I would be happy to once again.

Conviction is a funny, real thing.  Actually, it’s humbling.

As I prepared to write this post, I was drawn back to chapter 2 in its entirety.  Just before Paul warns the Colossae Church about slipping into legalism, he gives the church this reminder…a reminder that I also needed myself:

6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

The section heading for this passage in my ESV study Bible reads “Alive in Christ.”  Am I “alive” in Christ?  Am I living “alive”?  Would others look at me and not just think, but be drawn to the reality that I’m “alive” in Christ?

Like I said, conviction is humbling.  I was about to stand on a soapbox and make use of my imaginary megaphone, but instead, I found myself looking into the mirror of Colossians 2.  What I saw were reminders of what my life was suppose to be reflecting:  walking in Christ, rooted and built-up in Him, established in my faith, living a life of thanksgiving, guarded against untruth, filled with Christ, no longer living in the sphere of flesh and its influences, and identified with Christ is His death and resurrection.  This “identification” is further described within my study Bible – “Dying and rising with Christ signifies death to the power of sin and Satan plus empowerment to live the new life that Jesus calls believers to live in imitation of him.
 
I strive to live a life that’s reflective of Christ’s image; a life imitating Christ.  But, I’ll be the first to admit that at times, I feel inadequate.  I doubt myself.  I fall prey to past guilt.  I don’t feel worthy to be serving in the capacity that I currently am.  Although I strive to reflect Christ’s image, I’m far from perfect and struggle with these things.
 
As many of you might know, the Image Church Elders had our yearly retreat in Lynchburg this week.  It’s a time of reflecting, visioneering, planning and implementing.  It was also a time of edification and accountability, which was, to me, the most valuable time spent this weekend.  The eight of us stripped away our pride, made ourselves accountable through personal transparency, and then were edified and encouraged by each other.  I needed this!  These seven men – Elders, co-laborers, and friends – helped me to face my feelings of inadequacy and doubt.  I was humbled to listen and glean from my peers and mentors.  I was encouraged and challenged to be “alive in Christ.”
 
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the opening session of the recent Whiteboard Sessions in Virginia Beach.  Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, opened the one-day conference by directing us to I Peter 5.  Here are some quick thoughts from what he shared with us:
  • What I do really matters.
  • Be who I am.
  • God desires me to be me.
  • I need to know who I am, accept who I am, and be who I am.
  • Who am I…a minister of grace.
  • People don’t call me;  God does.
  • God called me to be me, or else He wouldn’t have made me to be me.
All that to say this…  As an individual, I sometimes get discouraged and down on myself; I try to compare myself to others and feel inferior.  As a church, I feel that sometimes we are tempted to pattern ourselves after other churches and their practices, programs and beliefs.  And when we feel like things aren’t growing or going the way we think that they should, we’re once again drawn to look to other churches for answers.
 
Maybe we need to be reminded that God made us alive in Him.  Both individually and corporately, let’s stop trying to be something that we weren’t called to be.  God desires and has called me to be me.  God desires and has called Image Church to be Image Church.
 
Imagine if we just got over ourselves and lived lives alive in Christ.  Imagine the potential!
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