Live a life worthy of Jesus
Practical tips for following Christ from the book of Colossians.
Before reading this article, have a look at Colossians 1:1-14.
One of my favourite movies growing up was Wayne's World. Long story short, two 80's hair metal nerds who loved the 80's rock-god Alice Cooper, and had their own TV show. One of my favourite parts of the movies was when they got to meet Alice Cooper...
Their response to meeting him? They bow down and worship him, saying, "we're not worthy! we're not worthy!" When Paul writes this the first section of Colossians 1 of his letter to the Colossians, he starts by writing down his prayers for them. As he prays, he urges them to 'live a life worthy of the Lord'. In the way that you live, be worthy of Jesus!
But before we look at his prayer, there's a little 2 verse greeting that tells us a bit of background stuff. In verse 1, Paul introduces himself as an 'apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God'. Being an apostle meant that God had given him a mission. You can read about his mission in Galatians: his mission was to take the good news about Jesus to the Gentiles*.
Paul also mentions 'Timothy, our brother' as a co-author. Paul was training Tim to take over his mission when his time was up. He may have been writing the letter down for Paul, or they may have been writing it together. They're writing to the 'holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse'.
At the heart of Paul's prayer is the good news about Jesus. 'For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.' (1:13-14). Paul wants them to hold onto that good news with all of their lives. And he wants them to live a life worthy of that good news.
What does it mean to live a life worthy? Well, Paul uses a subtle picture of a fruit tree. What should a good fruit tree do? Bear Fruit and Grow.
LIVING LIKE A TREE
Firstly, Paul thanks God for how the Colossian Christians and been bearing fruit and growing, particularly in verses 4 and 5.
Then Paul shows them the bigger picture: that just as they have been bearing fruit and growing, so also the good news is bearing fruit and growing all around the world. The point is, as you live out your faith and face opposition, remember that you're not alone. All around the world, God is continuing to do his work.
Next, Paul prays that they would continue to grow. In verse 9, he prays that they would grow in their knowledge of God's will - God's big plan for the world - so that they would fit in with that plan and live a life worthy of Jesus. He prays that they will know God better, by having a deeper relationship with him as we understand him better from reading his word.
And he prays that they would continue to bear fruit 'in every good work' - that as we grow in our knowledge of God, that knowledge would change the way we treat others, that we would do good instead of evil, that we would love instead of hate. He prays all of this, so that the Colossians might continue to stand firm, as they patiently endure all the opposition.
NEVER GIVE UP
Finally, Paul prays that they would joyfully give thanks to God for saving them, and giving us a future inheritance in heaven. How awesome it is, that though we are completely undeserving, God would step down, become one of us, die to take our punishment, so that we can take a seat in heaven! Be happy about that, and thank God for that!
Paul's prayer is also a prayer for us. As we face opposition, never give up. Always work at living a life worthy of Jesus. Grow in your knowledge of God by reading the Bible, talking to your mates about Jesus, and asking your leaders lots of questions. Work hard at doing good things like obeying your parents, loving your family and everyone around you. And patiently endure the opposition we'll face and be joyfully thankful that he has saved us!
*Gentiles were everyone who wasn't born as a Jew.