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Hope for a Shocked World

Hope for a Shocked World

Colossians 1:1-2:3


  1. Colossians Cleanings
  2. The terrorist attack at Westminster in London Wednesday
    1. Girls being raped in the restrooms at their hi school


Do we matter . . . in a world like this?

Is what we are about making a difference in this troubled world?


Can we matter more?

Are there ways we can have a clearer focus and a clearer strategy?


This morning we Pray for the Nations

Can we put more heart into this element of our church life?


In our study, I am going to ask two questions:

Do they matter?

Do we matter?



Those people we will never meet . . . do they matter?

Is there a difference . . . a beneficial difference we can make in their lives and a difference they make in the cities, the universities, the nations they live in?


Colossae and the Lychos valley

  1. Ephesus is on the coast of Asia Minor
    1. Paul ministered there for a few of years
    2. During that time, he evangelized and trained a host of men who had a vision for somewhere else
      1. Colossae and Laodicea, inland about 100 miles from Ephesus, were some of those places
      2. Onesimus, a runaway slave of a man in Colossae named Philemon was one of those men.
  • Epaphras, a native of Colossae, met Paul in Ephesus. He was an unusually promising leader
    1. He went home to Colossae. There he led some people to Christ and formed them into a “gathering,” “assembly,” a church.
    2. These may have been Epaphras’ extended family, household servants and business associates.
    3. They met in the home of a man named Philemon
  1. Paul never met these people
    1. Did he matter to them?
    2. Did they matter to him?
    3. Did they matter to the culture they lived in?

Did this little “assembly” matter to the city, the culture they lived in?


Colossians 1:21

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds . . .

  1. These people were apparently rough people
    1. Perhaps their “evil deeds” were “soft”
      1. Envy
      2. Jealousy
  • An occasional fib
    1. But nothing that hurt people


  1. Or might “evil deeds . . . “ mean,
    1. Adultery and sexual sin that left individuals and households devastated for generations?
      1. Was rape on their moral resume?
    2. Anger, revenge and retaliation, that may have left individuals and households devastated and alienated for generations?
  • Did it ever come to murder, like we saw in London this week?
  1. Colossians 3 may be a summary of the sorts of things these people, Epaphras’ family, were doing.


But then, the gospel came!

Epaphras brought this good news about Jesus to these people and it made all the difference in the world!


Colossians 1:22

yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—


Colossians 1:13–14

13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


Paul understood that something powerful was going on with these people who he had not met, and may never meet.

  1. The gospel has permanently changed them!
  2. Their future is guaranteed to be changed forever!
  3. And in some way, perhaps seen, perhaps unseen, they participated in making a difference in the world!


Colossians 1:5–6

5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel

6which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;

John Woodhouse, Australia

“There is a power at work in the world today that is more powerful than all others.

It is not the force of democracy, or the anti-democratic movements that are currently active and moving.

It is not socialism.

It is not human rights or civil rights or gay rights or feminism.

It is certainly not atheistic secularism.

The force that is active and more forceful than any other is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”


Paul understood that the gospel matters . . .

  1. On an individual and household level
  2. On an eternal level
  3. And, it matters “in all the world” where it is “constantly bearing fruit and increasing”


  1. Paul sees these “assemblies” as part of a “kingdom” that resides and fruitfully, powerfully, steadily grows among the nations of the earth.


Looking more closely at this point.

Colossians 1:25–27

25Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,

26that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,


  1. In “ages and generations” prior to the coming of Christ, there was a “mystery that had been hidden”
    1. In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man in the world, had a dream.
    2. Daniel, a Hebrew exile, a youth, interpreted the dream
      1. There will be nation after nation after nation who will rule the world with varying degrees of power and success.
      2. One day there will be a ruler with a kingdom of His own, and He will reign over the other nations forever and ever.
  • This dream was described as a mystery and was hidden from ages past.
    1. The OT prophets saw glimpses of what this mystery entails.


  1. “Now” this mystery has been “made known” to the Christians scattered among the “nations” gathered in these “assemblies”


Colossians 1:27

27to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


  1. One day, Christ will return and rule over all of the nations


  1. In the meanwhile, the mystery is made known among the ‘nations’, the ‘gentiles’ . . .


  1. “Christ in you, the hope of glory”
    1. Do these small ministries that we pray for matter in the cities and universities and villages they live and minister in?
    2. Do we matter in Norman?
  • At the university?
  1. At the place you work?
  2. At the school your children attend?
  1. Until Christ returns and assumes reign over the nations, the way He chooses to work now is “in you”, right here!


  1. and “Christ in them, the hope of glory”




Now, let’s consider the question,

Do we matter?


I’m not discussing personal value and significance?

I am considering the question of our influence.

Do I as an individual Christian have a role in the advancement of the kingdom of Christ?

Do we as a relatively small “assembly” have a strategic and significant influence beyond where we currently are?

  1. In Norman
  2. At the university
  3. Among the nations of the world



Paul would answer this with a resounding “YES”!

  1. He was a prisoner in Rome awaiting possible execution, but that did not slow him down at all



Being a servant

The way the gospel spreads, and the way it goes deeper into the lives of those who have received it, is through the effort of servants.

Colossians 1:23

if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister (a servant).

  1. We tend to think of “minister” as someone who has a job with a church or a ministry


  1. That was true to an extent in Paul’s thinking


  1. He had a wider understanding of the idea. Here our word “servant” best gets at what Paul imagines.


  1. The “servant” comes under the one being served
    1. The “servant” answers to Christ as well as to the “assembly”



Paul served by praying for these people he had never met

Colossians 1:9

9For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you . . .

Paul not only was a servant. He raised up servants

Epaphras was a servant (4:12)

Timothy was a servant

Archippus, (4:17)

Onesimus (Phile 1:13)

Philemon 24

24as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.


Servants suffer


Colossians 1:24

24Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.

  1. There is joy in suffering as a servant of the gospel
    1. There is joy in the privilege of serving Christ, even though it involves suffering for Christ
  2. These sufferings “fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”
    1. This does not mean that Christ’s death on the cross is inadequate for our atonement and redemption (see 1:20)
      1. It does mean that suffering is a way that Christ’s message and ministry go into our city, our university and among the nations of the earth.
        1. Service means suffering!
        2. This is how the benefits of Christ’s reconciliation are brought to the whole world.



River, this is a mark of leaders and of churches who really care about the people, the “assemblies” they are led to serve


Colossians 2:1–3

1For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,

  1. Paul describes his struggle as “great”, (“hard” NIV)
    1. 2 Corinthians 11:28
    2. 28Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.



2that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,

3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


We are going to pray this morning for our friends around the world