(Written by Pastor Tim Redfield)
Colossians 3:12-17 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 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.
The first miracle of Christmas is that our God became a man in order to save us. It is such a wonderful miracle that the virgin birth took place. Our perfect almighty God humbled himself to be born of a virgin. Jesus is true God and true man. In Colossians 2 verse 9, Paul wrote, “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Jesus is fully God. It is hard for sinful minds to understand that wonderful truth. When we look at the baby lying in the manger, our sinful minds think it strange that this baby is the one who created the entire universe.
And yet, that is exactly what Paul tells us. Earlier in Colossians Paul said that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:15-20).
Jesus is the bodily form of the invisible God. Jesus participated in the creation of all things and he has authority over all things. He is the head of the church. We look to him for everything that we need. Because of his blood, which was shed on the cross, we have peace with God. Because he rose from the dead, we have confidence that we too will rise from the dead. It truly is an incredible miracle that our incredible God was born in a manger at Bethlehem.
The second miracle of Christmas is the wonderful truth that God has revealed the first miracle of Christmas to us. Think about that. Why is it that we accept these truths of Christmas? Why can we look at the miracles of Christmas and not reject them as utter nonsense? Is there something special about us? We only need to pause for a little while to realize that there isn’t anything special about us which would make God love us. Have we always shown compassion toward others or do we put ourselves ahead of others? Have we always been humble or do we take pride in ourselves? Are we gentle and patient with others or do we become irritated when things don’t go our way?
We can go on with many examples of our sins. We are selfish people who often put our wants and desires ahead of what God wants. God did not reveal the truths of Christmas to us because of anything special in us. God revealed the truths of Christmas to us because he chose to love us. Paul said that we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12). He also says that we “were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15). It is a wonderful special privilege that God chose us to receive his love. He sent us that gift of the Holy Spirit to work faith in us. We are holy because of what Christ did for us. We have peace with God. We have the peace of forgiveness and eternal life.
Think about when Simeon and Anna met the baby Jesus at the temple. Think about the similarities that we share with Simeon and Anna. Simeon and Anna were like us in that God chose them and gave them faith in Jesus. There were many people at the temple in Jerusalem on that day. Those people were going about their normal business. They were offering prayers and sacrifices. They were worshipping. Unfortunately, they did not realize who was at the temple that day. They did not realize that Jesus, the Savior of the World, was there in the temple. Simeon and Anna were the only people to realize this extraordinary event.
This is very similar to our world today. There are many people going about their daily lives who do not realize the important truth that is very near. Some people are even going to worship but they are missing out on why worship is so important. Many people miss the truth about Jesus. Many people fail to recognize the problem of their own sinfulness and they don’t see Jesus as their Savior. People might view Jesus as moral teacher or an example of holy living or perhaps they view him as just a nice story that we tell the kids at Christmas. It is sad that so many people miss the truth. Simeon and Anna had the peace of Jesus and so do we.
Yes it is terribly sad that so many people reject the truth of the Savior. And yet, this ought to make us appreciate our gift of faith even more. Yes God loved the world and sent his Son Jesus to save the world. Jesus’ death paid for the sins of the world. Salvation was taken care of by God and there is nothing we have to do. God took care of it. And if that wasn’t enough, he also took care of our faith. He chose us. He chose believers to trust this wonderful message. Be thankful for this miracle. God has overcome our dead, sinful hearts and created a new life of faith in us.
We continue to grow in that faith. Verse 17 says, “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.” Our life focuses on Christ. Our life is one of thankfulness. When we keep Christ at the center of everything in our lives then we are living the faith that the Holy Spirit has planted in our hearts. The more time we spend growing in our spiritual knowledge, the more peace we will have.
We certainly didn’t deserve our Christmas gift from God. We are sinful by nature. And yet, God, in his grace, chose to give us the gift of faith. We now know Jesus and what he did for us. Now we realize that God also chose us to share Jesus.
There really are many ways that we share Jesus in our lives. As Christians, this is what we are called to do. God gave us such a wonderful Christmas gift that we just have to tell others. Think about the shepherds on the first Christmas. After they saw Jesus, they went out and told the message to others. Of course we are not all door-to-door evangelists, pastors, or even Sunday School teachers. Some people have these talents but not every Christian. Even if we are not the ones who are the most vocal about our faith, there are ways that we share Jesus.
In verses 12 to 14, Paul wrote, “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” We could spend time talking about each aspect of faith listed here but for the sake of time we’ll just mention forgiveness and love. It is so important that we forgive each other. Every time we tell someone that their sins are forgiven by God and by us, we are showing them Jesus. Jesus forgave us for all our wickedness and through faith we forgive others. Forgiveness is showing love. God loved us so much that we can now love others by forgiving them.
Paul also talked about letting God’s Word dwell within us. He said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). This passage points us to our worship life. When we gather here for worship or Bible Study we are letting God’s Word dwell in our hearts. We are meditating on those important truths of our salvation. We are teaching and admonishing each other through the use of God’s law and gospel. We are motivated by the love that God has placed in our hearts.
Our worship services are carefully planned so that we receive the spiritual encouragement that we need. We come in all humility to recognize our sinfulness and God’s forgiveness in the Confession and Absolution. We sing hymns which express the clear truths of our salvation. We sing many other liturgical songs which express the wonders of our triune God. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts through the Scripture readings and through the meditation that takes place during the sermon. We have baptisms through which the Holy Spirit creates faith. We celebrate the Lord’s Supper through which we partake of the body and blood that was shed on the cross. We receive forgiveness and peace.
Worship is all about God strengthening us. He gives us exactly what we need. God’s Word is often called spiritual food. That is a good illustration. Just like we need food in this life to stay healthy and to have the energy we need, we also need spiritual food. We need God’s Word to stay spiritually healthy. We come to worship, we are fed spiritually, and then we share Jesus. We first of all get to share Jesus here in worship through our participation in the worship service. Then we go out and share Jesus in our lives.
We continue to share that Christmas joy. Even though our world has turned its attention to the New Year, we understand that the Christmas joy we have is far more important than the calendar changing from one year to the next. Jesus came to earth to be our Savior. Jesus wants all people to know this wonderful message. Share Jesus in whatever way you can. We are beginning another year under God’s wonderful grace. We who know Jesus personally can share him with all those who are still in darkness. We have the light of the world. This joy of Christmas stays with us every day.