While I was serving as an intern with the Carter Center I had the privilege of traveling to South Africa. I was a full time student and a last minute addition to the team. As a result I didn’t do a lot of research, threw some clothes in a bag and grabbed my lap top which in many cases along with coffee that is all that a seminarian needs to survive.

Shortly after landing I was asked to read some documents in preparation for our meeting the next day. Print or email my colleague asked and instinctively I said email. When I went to plug in my laptop I realized that the plug on the computer didn’t match the outlet on the wall.

I quickly downloaded the documents watching the life of the computer drain with each passing moment. I finally decided to journey beyond the confines of our campus to explore possibilities for connecting to the power that was in the wall but not flowing to my computer. While I as searching for a solution through internet searches, my computer died and in order to avoid an international incident it was imperative for me to find a solution.

When I finally obtained a solution I literally felt like the Wonder Twins when they connected the power rings.

While I was disconnected from the power source I was anxious not very focused. When I became connected these was a sense of being aligned with the whole world.

Paul was dealing with a difficult situation. He was dealing with a church that was disconnected from its power source, Jesus.

He was in jail writing a pastoral letter to a recently established church. He was clear the power of following Christ was when the small g gods were replaced with the Power of the Almighty, Everlasting God and the power that was available to us through Jesus Christ.

Paul was dealing with a difficult situation

The church in Colossae was in Phrygia in Asia Minor. This newly established church had several different thought streams. These streams of thought are the reasons that they were disconnected.

Gnosticism

Jewish Mysticism

Roman Nationalism

Greek god worshippers

Roman god worshippers

The Eclectic mixing Roman and Greek gods

Jews and Gentiles, Romans, Greek and the indigenous people of Colossae who were previously divided on everything were now united by Jesus Christ in one faith community.  Spiritually they were connected to the new reality that Jesus was in Lord. Intellectually they carried some of their old ways into their new faith reality. They worshiped in the same houses

Read the same scriptures

Heard the same messages

Believed in Jesus

Partook of the Lord’s Supper from the same table

Passed the peace with each other but……….

They were not unified in what it really meant for Christ to be supreme

Paul was dealing with a difficult situation

Paul seeking to address these issues begins to pen this letter with one other challenge. This is not one of the churches that he established by Paul. The church in Colossae was started by Epaphras a disciple of Paul’s. This meant that his authority was not recognized by everyone in the church.

These competing thoughts contributed to the struggle for power in each follower of The Way. Paul’s goal was to reconnect them to the power of Christ which had transformed their lives and compelled them to be a paet of the community in the first place.

Here is how we are going to define power

Power is an entity or individual’s ability to control or direct others, while authority is influence that is predicated on perceived legitimacy.

Power as believers in Jesus Christ is our ability to influence other people to follow Jesus Christ because of the influence of our lives as we follow Jesus Christ.

Each thought stream within the follows of Christ was in competition for their own space and power. Paul address each of them through out the letter to the Colossians. In our text though is addressing one specific strand. The Roman Nationalism. Our text begins with understanding just a bit about the Roman Empire. The Empire reigned for 1000 years and spread from Northwestern Europe to the Near East. The Roman Empire became the religion of Roman nationalism for those who accredited their success in life to all that the Empire provided. There were many things that were laid out for people but four specific foundational blocks were

Roads– Transportation conduits that connected groups of people that were previously separated.

Culture– Romans tool the best of any culture and spread it throughout their Empire

Commerce– Because of the roads merchants and vendors were connected in ways that were previously difficult or impossible.

Forced Peace– Once you were conquered by Rome previously warring nations were forced to get along. The peace was enforced by violence

Security– The Empire enforced a code of laws for all citizens. They also had the best army, with the best weapons and the best training.

These four elements were highlighted as to reason why to be loyal to the Empire. Some accepted Jesus as long as they did not have to give up the ways of the empire. The ways of the Roman Empire also came with a tiered caste system

  • The Aristocrats and Ultra Wealthy
  • The Politically Connected
  • The Traveling Commerce Merchants
  • Local Commerce Merchants
  • Artisans
  • Roman Citizens
  • The Hebrew Nation
  • Christians

Paul was addressing those who had benefited from Roman Nationalism and wanted to follow Christ. This duality is address in this portion of the biblical text and Paul does it in a masterful way. Paul appears to get frustrated in the text and finally resolves himself address the situation from several different vantage points early in the development of the letter.

His entire argument can be summed up in the central focus of the text11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled[b] you[c] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light

This text establishes our access to the power of Christ. Paul encourages us to be strong and joyful as we share the inheritance with Christ. In the subsequent verses he establishes why, and how to access the power.

Why – The power of Darkness has no power of us because our sins were forgiven.

  1. 13 –

Where the powers of darkness have no power over us this does not mean we will not have some challenging times

The Good News  is that through the vicissitudes of life we have the power of Christ

Through the supremacy of Christ in creation and redemption. The good news is that this power also belongs to us as believers in Jesus Christ.

  1. 11 – We live with the power that God gave Jesus to live with power
  2. 13 – Jesus is supreme over darkness
  3. 15 – Supreme over creation
  4. 17 – Supreme over the church

v 19 – Supreme over our redemption

There are many competing thought streams that have creep into the church in the church today just like there were in the early church.

  • There are some who believe that political affiliation should influence the life of the church
  • There are some that view the Bible as a historical reference book rather than an authoritative guide on how to live
  • There are some who don’t fully embrace the sacred worth of every child of God and some who do
  • There are some who believe you have to believe before you can belong in the church and there are some who really believe come as you are
  • There are some who believe that the love of God is available to those who believe like they believe and others who believe God’s love is available to everyone

These are a few of the examples of the streams of thought that are impacting us today.

I would be remised if I did not share with you the last one that I will take a stand on. Should a potluck have fried chicken, salads or both.

  • We have the power live lives under the power of Jesus
    • Are you going on to perfection? – Ordination Question
    • Membership Vows
  1. To renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of the world, and repent of their sin;
  2. To accept the freedom and power God gives them to resist evil, injustice, and oppression;
  3. To confess Jesus Christ as Savior, put their whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as their Lord;
  • When Christ is supreme in our churches we have the power to have healthy thriving faith communities – Fresh Start in Tennessee
  • When Christ is supreme in our lives, we have the power to fight injustice –

When Christ reigns supreme in our lives

We have power to access inner strength –

Pain and the Pressures of Life

Disappointments and Despair of broken relationships

Frustration and Fatigue of everyday living

When Christ reigns supreme in our lives

Power to have our faith increased

To trust God for Hope and healing

To trust God with all that is precious and prosperous

To trust God to be with us through the good times and the challenges of life

When Christ reigns supreme in our lives

Power to Love Unconditionally

Love the broken hearted and broken in their spirit

Love those incarcerated and the immigrant

Love our neighbor and yourself

To love unconditionally means that sometime you will have to forgive without being the one who is wrong.

When Christ reigns supreme in our lives – This is when we are plugged into the power.

We wake up daily proclaiming and affirming the supremacy of Christ in our lives

Jesus the anointed one lives in me

Jesus is Emmanuel God and walks with me and talks to me everyday

Jesus is my way out of no way in every difficult situation that I may face today

Jesus is my light in darkness there is no situation that the Light of Christ can be extinguished

Jesus is my hope for tomorrow when the frustrations of today could cause me to give up

Jesus is my Bright and Morning Star and provides a compass for my spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth

I can proclaim

Jesus is the True Vine

Jesus is the Second person of the Triune God

Jesus is fully human and fully God understands the ordinary everyday life I live

Jesus is the mighty warrior fighting my battles for me

Jesus is the Lamb of God I can take all of my cares to him

Jesus my Savior

Jesus Christ is the source of my power