Chip Stapleton Highland Presbyterian Church April 30th, 2020 Hunkered Down Devotions
Colossians 2:6-7 (VOICE) 6 Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. 7 Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. One of the cornerstones of the Reformed branch of Protestant Christianity – of which, we Presbyterians are a part – is the belief in what is called prevenient grace. That word -prevenient – is a fancy word with a simple, but important meaning. Essentially, prevenient grace means that in the relationship between us and God, God is always the first actor.
God loves us – before we love him; God cares for us – before we care about him; God moves towards us, so that we can move towards him. What this means is that anything we do is done in response to what God has already done for us. We don’t act to earn God’s love, we act in response to it. That is what this passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossian church is all about. Paul is calling on the church – on all of us – in response to God’s love and presence in our lives (‘Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One……’).
What is the response that we are being called to? Paul shares a few simple and clear directives to guide our actions. First, we are to ‘continue to journey’ with Jesus. What does that look like? There can be many answers, but all of them likely include regular prayer, study (reading the scripture, etc.), fellowship and discipleship with others, and mission and service to others.
Second, Paul calls us to allow Jesus to ‘shape our lives’. While this too is definitely about our actions, the focus here I think is on our hearts and minds. Our actions – our lives – will reflect the things that we allow our hearts and minds to focus on. This is why we are called to ‘set our minds on things above’.
Third, we are told to ‘let our roots grow deep’. The actions here are more of the same, but this direction gives us a sense about the persistence and faithfulness that God is asking of us. We will not be shaped by Jesus overnight; it will take time to build faithful habits and to be transformed into the cruciform life of a follower of Jesus. The next instruction is connected to this one – to be built up ‘on a firm foundation’. Our deep roots and firm foundation in Jesus prepare us to weather the storms of life and to enjoy a life-long relationship with our savior.
Finally, we are told to ‘be strong in our faith’ and to ‘always spill over with kindness’. These two things, while distinct, are closely connected. One of the clearest signs of a strong faith is a life overflowing with love and kindness. Not as an attempt to gain affection from those around us or to curry favor with God, but as a response to the love, grace, and peace we have already received. Sharing God’s Love, Chip
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for loving us and caring for us. Shape our lives so that they conform to your will and spill over with your love and kindness. Amen.