Jesus Informs Our Sight (Sermon)

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you you brothers and sisters the Eternal Father who is Alpha and Omega beginning and in author and finisher and who has called you by name now cause you to worship Him in spirit and in truth as the only way truth and source of all life please join us as we sing our first ham a blessed Jesus at your word and as instructed in a bulletin we will sing stands as one

two and three and then repeat stanza one our Lord has so graciously called us to worship and now greets us with these words from Galatians 1 3 through 5 grace and peace to you my beloved children for whom my son Jesus Christ gave himself to set you free from your sins that you might experience rescue from the present evil age according to my will and for my glory forever and ever welcome to you may be seated thank you welcome to today’s evening service my name is Kizzy Thomas and I am a member of first CRC a Calvin Theological Seminary in’ and for the past year have had the absolute delight and being your doorstep ministry in turn so I have really enjoyed getting to know you all and getting to know the community in which you reside in to whom you have been caught so thank you so much for having me here today we will enter a portion of Paul’s letter to the church of Colossae it’s an exploitation of sorts reminding us to hold fast to our first love what we know to be truth which is the gospel the chosen text for our reading Ephesians 4 22 through 24 and Romans 12 2 will help to Center us and to prepare us for what God has to say today through the sermon so

Ephesians 4 22 through 24 reads you were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self which is being corrupted by is deceitful desires to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness Romans 12 to do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will Liz his good pleasing and perfect will the word of the Lord let’s stand together and confess to our Lord and to each other what we believe you will find it printed in your bulletin we believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it we must not consider human writings no matter how holy their authors may have been equal to the divine writings nor may we put custom nor the majority nor age nor the passage of times or persons nor counsels decrees or official decisions above the truth of God for truth is above everything else therefore we reject with all our hearts everything that does not agree with this infallible rule as we were taught to do

by the Apostles when they say test the spirits to see whether they are from God spell our heads and join together in prayer Holy Spirit we know that you are present here and we ask that you would lead this prayer in Jesus name annoying Father in Heaven we thank you for today or we thank you for the events of today be them good or be them what we would classify as not so good we know that Lord the events of the day does not take away from your goodness so we thank you for today only father in heaven be it within ourselves or without there is no place to which we may flee fall or voluntarily enter that is without your presence your grace your love or the power of your counsel would we lift up our nation will you help our nation allure to walk and a knowledge of your love your grace your love the power of your counsel probably will you help our leaders to be wise as according to your will Jesus what may you be the leader of this country and may you speak in a way that you may be heard father with all of the controversy and all of the legislature that really seeks to be the next thing to divide your church may you Father be that rock and at refuge that will hold us together as according to your will may you father into our communities it may you help us to express you to express your presence to express your grace to express your love and to walk in the power of your council as we live with each other and live amongst each other I mean you help us to do so as neighbors authentically and for real father something that is only possible through your love and through your counsel father the spaces that make

up our lives our families our churches our jobs the groups to which we belong follow me those spaces be invaded by your presence your grace your love and the power of your counsel because father we need you in every single space of our lives may you reign Jesus or the pain that some are experiencing right now even in his body where you are a good shepherd who has promised that all things fall together for the good of those who love you and are the called according to your will father may you renew in them a hope that comes from your promises a peace Lord that doesn’t really necessarily make the storms go away but or make you strengthen within the storm a piece that reminds us that when we are in the valley of the shadow of Darkness that the darkness is just a shadow because your presence is still so full the Lord for your church will you help us to love each other will you help us O Lord to walk and a knowledge of the providential care promised to us that we relinquish what we consider our rights to your wheel our ways to your way our deeds to your plans for you know the plans you have for a father and a our plans but not to harm us but to prosper us to give us hope and a future so you can form us to you to make us look like you to each other father may your presence bleed within the body may it be so full Lord at the moment we enter our places of worship we experience what it means for you to be alive and active right now Jesus and will for our world that hurts and that is on some days screaming out for the real live evidence of a savior who loves it and who loves every person may you help us your children to be a part of that evidence by the way we treat each other may we be evidence of your presence your grace your love and evidence of the power of your counsel because you promised that you will lead us and guide us along the best pathways for our life so we thank you for your word we thank you for your promises where we thank you for your providential care and for your faithfulness that endures and indoors and endures we thank you lord if you pull us from deep waters that you cover us and protect our loved ones Lord let you still raise loved ones from the dead Lord even if that’s just a spiritual one we thank you for your hand Jesus in our lives may we ever be open to experiencing you Jesus maybe never feel like we got it because you Lord are unfathomable and it is through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God now and forever that we pray amen you you

you I am so full of excitement at being here and I keep wanting a smile but when I look out you guys look so serious and I don’t want to look awkward so I thought I would just say that let’s pray father thank you so much for your word thank you that we have the opportunity to enter it and to experience you and to hear from you and Laura me those things be so this evening may you open our ears to hear as a learn it open our eyes to see open our hearts to receive and father when it’s all said and done made my message and my pre-teen not be remembered as one with wise and persuasive words but as a demonstration of the spirit’s power so that our faith might not rest on human wisdom but increasingly on your power holy spirit we welcome your presence and his fullness in jesus name amen our scripture today comes from Colossians 2 verses 6 through 12 that is page 1830 in your Pew Bibles and it reads as follows so then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord continue to live your lives in him rooted and built up in him strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ for in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form and in cries you have been brought to fullness he is the head

over every power and authority in him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ having been buried with him in Baptism in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead the word of the Lord Carl is an elderly guy who just recently began attending church services some would say Carla tennis mostly for the after service coffee as he sometimes misses the entire service and arrived just in time for coffee while at other times he arrives on time but sleeps and 20 Coffee time Kathy on the other hand is a longtime member of the church she’s now serving as a part of his council Kathy mostly knows Carl from his panhandling Carl is one of the 2400 homeless persons living on the streets of what is called the Hearthside district of Grand Rapids the same place in which the church is located Kathy sees Carl today the same as she always sees him he walks up and he’s in these worn jeans and oversized gray hoodie with this scruff Lee unkempt beard and small scar just underneath his right nostril and is accompanied by what Kathy would describe as the smell of old cigarette butts and gasoline she sees him the same as she always sees him but it’s different this time today Cathy bumps into Carl outside of service oh I’m sorry Chrome I didn’t see you there are you looking for someone it’s only nine o’clock the office isn’t officially open can I help you with something Carl responds by explaining why he’s there ice okay Kathy I’m here waiting on my a meeting to begin across the street over there at the cherry health clinic I’m Kathy who is now experienced in a bit of nervousness doesn’t want to add to that the appearance of ruin is by walking away mid-conversation so she doesn’t she stays Carl continues to speak Kathy listens turns out Carl’s a veteran he had no kids and was with his wife Cherie for 38 years before she passed away of cancer now at that time with only have the income and emotional support he once had things got harder almost unbearable and one thing led to another in Carl’s life first the depression came then the alcohol then the total loss of income as a result of the drinking and then ultimately the loss of his home a food pantry referred Carl to the office of veteran affairs and they’re now the ones helping him reapply for benefits and are also the ones who refer him to Alcoholics Anonymous AAA it was someone at AAA that referred him to the church Carl was found sleeping during service following those evenings where he couldn’t secure bed and one of the local shelters and he still showed up for coffee even when he missed service because he really did just like the company so we started off with Kathy seen Carl the same as she always sees him but is different this time Carl is still Carl and cathy is still Kathy but what’s different here is that Kathy heard Carl’s story received Carl’s story and so had her site informed by Carl’s story Kathy sees Carl differently this time now entering the context of today’s passage we see Paul sitting at a makeshift wooden desk in the middle of the night writing by candlelight this letter before us to the Church of Colossae we can imagine that the heiress must be the night is silent we see a single guard standing just outside the entrance of Paul’s rented dwelling space which is actually a prison in Rome and Timothy he’s expecting to return to visit him again at sunrise although this manner of imprisonment is not the typical one it is still imprisonment in fact every time Paul repositions himself even a slightest bit the blunt dragon click clink clink clink clink clink of the big metal chain balance of both his ankles remind him of just that Paul as a

prisoner but pause hearing and receiving of the gospel helps him see things differently he is indeed in Chains he is indeed a prisoner but this capacity to see things differently gives to this experience a new definition a new subheading I Paul a prisoner of Christ Paul has a different side of things as a result of this gospel foundation and it is this gospel foundation this gospel tradition at Pau urges the Church of colossa to hold on to for the sake of their sight as well he writes in verse 8 see to it that no one takes you captive through hallo and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ see to it because in Colossae there was a variety of worship choices and this was not a new site it’s always been around Colossae along with the other two cities that are mentioned in a letter which are Laodicea and her opolis shared in common not only the presence of a substantial and influential Jewish minority but a religious culture of laxity as well cult and Pagan worship were many and varied dedicated to deities from many places each easily mingled with others each carry and his own assurances and attracting his own followers for one reason or another it was all around the Jewish population who had long been settled here had this synchronistic familiarity and so it would explain their apparently synchronistic tendencies and openness to untraditional ideals and their worship patterns those members of the Jewish population who has succumbed to these ways these ways of the world were the proponents of this false teaching that we see pas warning the Church of Colossae against and it’s false teaching this philosophy built on human tradition was a sneaky one it’s like an infomercial that you see on TV and you watch it and even though you don’t want to buy the gadget but you don’t want to turn the TV you just watch it and this infomercial was telling you about this doohickey that you need and you didn’t know you needed it until you saw it infomercial right and then you’re watching is them from our show and it’s like you know you get this thing for 1995 and then they say but wait there’s more and they offer you a second one for no additional price ah but you gotta pay shipping and handling think it right these things they’re sneaky so this new teaching because its aim was to reconcile or bring together different or opposing religious principles and practices there was this presentation of a philosophy that didn’t demand one to abandon one’s religious foundation it didn’t demand the outright abandonment of your religious foundation and only proposed to supplement that foundation to add to it and what did they propose add to it well in addition to what you have it offered to add additional guidance and protection from evil powers in the attainment of greater good gnosis of God and the mysteries of God good gnosis being the Greek term for knowledge in a New Testament but just like that sneaking infomercial there comes a price so how you give this additional guidance and protection is well through rituals through ascetic legalism and the appeasement and worship of Elemental Spears of the universe like stars and angels who were considered a building blocks of their of reality in their time so apparently for those against whom Paul is writing more is needed for one to come to terms with the forces that rule the world then simple adherence to Christ these were old ways these were thoughts of the old nature Paul knows how persuasive things of the old nature can be and doesn’t want the Church of colossa to fall back into these old ways Paul wants them continued to continue in those new things those new ways those new beliefs that new site given by and built upon the gospel tradition as first heard and received through the Evangelist apat forests and as opposed to human tradition so those surroundings essentially remain the same and these syncretism desees seem okay almost even harmless Paul admonishes the Colossians

to see to it that no one takes them captive and they can do this with the capacity to see things differently we have the same encouragement today we can assume that in this sanctuary we don’t worship angels or stars or place the different natural elements of this world they created as though they were the Creator in our lives we can assume that we can assume we know better than to claim there to be some higher esoteric like knowledge that allows a closer walk with Jesus or some secret access to the heavenly realm we can assume this but the truth is guess what we can’t assume anything there are so many things in our day that present themselves as gospel as truth demanding that they be made the foundational pieces on which we build our lives after all let’s consider what a philosophy is a philosophy is just a school of thought it’s an ideal that that comes in and we build our beliefs and our underlying principles upon it so Paul wasn’t against philosophies he wasn’t against knowledge but he was against those hollow and deceptive philosophies which were built upon human tradition that’s the problem and we are susceptible to these deceptive philosophies that depend on human tradition because of our human condition use except the philosophies which depend on human tradition prey on our human condition that means we fall prey to what’s made available to us in this fallen world these how long deceptive philosophies are very subtle they can enter our lives and find our places in anonymity fast at a number of ways consider for example how many of us build our lives by fate instead of by faith that’s a hollow interceptor philosophy we don’t live my fate we live by faith or how many of us are among the thousands of people who check horoscopes in the local paper and allow a zodiac sign to dictate whether or not you’ll have a good day if you should get married or leave your job that’s real it’s a hollow and deceptive philosophy or how many of us have been caught blaming a certain amount of unusual activity in a given day on a full moon and God forbid the 13th falls on a friday these are Hollow and deceptive philosophies that are very subtle now some of these things may seem actually kind of humorous a bit far from home but let’s go a little deeper and bring it a little closer because again a philosophy is a school of thought it can be further understood as an external demand which provides internal influence so is something in our world outside of us that one to enter and have us build our underlying principles and beliefs upon it to view it’s an ideal is the site so consider for example the school of thought the view that site that good works can quantify salvation on it’s a little closer to home or ideal that a good work automatically makes it a god work or a good thing is automatically a guy thing have we allow that idea to influence our site or what about a site that even though Paul reminds us to pray without ceasing we find that we are somehow smart enough to make decisions without it or we come up with these projects that X God’s blessings upon it as though that makes it he is our only other end of things what about a sight of you that gives way to a subtle belief in asceticism thinking that our self-denying way of prayer of fasting of serving in a church and of abstaining from things as Christians makes us a bit holier-than-thou apparently we are we prayed for hours this morning does that inform our site in terms of community have we allowed to inform our site a subtle but prominent whisper that says to the other our way is the right way a form of ethnocentrism that keeps our

church doors open wide shut the same thing that we use to maintain social status outside the church while preserving what we consider to be our status quo inside the church out have we allow that ideal to inform eyesight now I know these things hurt they do but again it’s a part of the human condition we mess up we do stupid things and then guess what we do stupid things again don’t believe me look at the Israelites it’s biblical but the key here is that Paul says see to it that you are not taken captive so what that means is that these subtle hollow and deceptive philosophies will indeed come and we’ll find ourselves kind of lean into the left-leaning to the ride will find it we have made a decision based on our human tradition and human Nicola nations instead of the gospel tradition but Paul says don’t be taken captive by it God has promised a way out of it we as Christians have this daily opportunity to see things differently and so respond to things differently yes we are of the human condition but we no longer have to be slaves to it god made us benefactors of the gospel tradition and upon doing so gave us a new site and that’s why it’s so important to hold on to what we were first taught and as the reason why Paul is saying continue to live in Christ hold on to what you first heard and received in verse 6 he says so then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord continue to live your lives in him rooted and built up in him strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness continued in these things and what we see here are going to a little bit of Greek there’s a perfect passive participle here and root it and what that means is that this term rooted mean it it’s a perfect passive participle that means we have having been rooted that means that Christ is the one who did the routing and he did it totally and finally and it also means because it’s a perfect passive participle that us having been routed the effects of this having been routed spills over into our present and into our future day after day at day after day we have totally and finally been rooted in christ impala says continue that he desires to express this notion to the Colossians and to us and in verses 9 through 12 Paul desires to remind the Colossians that all the fullness of the deity in bodily form means as a and we have available to us a high priest able to help in our time of need even now and every day pause eyres to remind the church of Colossae and us that jesus is the head of every power and authority so they and we don’t need to seek salvation from any other source not our jobs not our friends at our social status or fear the condemnation or power of any other source Jesus is Lord but most importantly paw desires to remind his readers that in him in Christ they are accepted circumcision is what they needed circumcision is what they got but at a higher level these outsiders have been grafted in is as though they have been circumcised by the very hand of God himself through Christ they have on their person as well as we the marks of a spiritual circumcision it has cut away the old self in verses 9 through 12 Paul is essentially saying that the Christian rite of baptism represents an identification with christ in his death along with an identification with Christ in His resurrection dying and rising with Christ signifies death to the power of sin and Satan as well as empowerment to live this new life Jesus calls us believers to live an imitation of him so as a result of this new way we have access to this new identity this new site helps make possible the capacity to live

a resurrected and redeemed life in real time and that’s the point but we got to see things differently to live life differently in elementary school somewhere between learning to distinguish the differences between the eye and a sounds and a and E and learning that that thick white pasty stuff is not for eating but indeed for pasting we also learn of sight smell touch taste and sound also known as the five senses we learned that there is a certain way to these census work we smell with our nose hear with our ears taste with our tongue touch with our hands and see with our eyes what we learned later on however and mostly by way of experience is that these senses though presented as distinct and separate are actually not that distinct they influence one another consider for example how hands become eyes for the blind and eyes become ears for the deaf or consider how when you have a cold you can’t taste the vibrancy of your seasonings in your food as well or for those of you who wear glasses like me consider how you feel like you can’t hear so well when you don’t have them on what’s up with that my kids think is absolutely ridiculous they’ll come in my room in the morning just open the door mine I’m like hold on I need to get my glasses so I can hear you then I wha senses influence one another I heard at several points of these emotional videos on YouTube of people seeing and hearing for the first time but I hadn’t watched one before preparing for this sermon have any of you guys seen those videos of people hearing and seeing for the first time on YouTube it’s okay to answer yeah have anyone seen oh great well there was this one video with a skinny little girl with long black hair named Maggie Maggie was 14 and was described as having been a fighter since birth because of all that she was up against her heart stopped twice when she was first born she had weakened lungs and kidneys a cleft palate and was out and was was without lius and Leah’s are the snail shaped bones in the inner ear that allows us to hear and because Maggie also had auditory nerve damage in both ears this meant that the traditional cochlear ear transplant the device views and nearly all of the other videos was not a reality for Maggie she couldn’t get that what doctors and her parents ended up finding as a possibility to restore Maggie’s hearing was this auditory brain stem implant that would work because it would bypass the ear all together and be implanted into the brain but there were so many problems and risk for this procedure the FDA had approved it and there was much research that needed to be done surrounding its effectiveness and post surgical risk fears at the time included facial paralysis spinal cord paralysis and increased the brain damage it’s a lot of risk but after waiting 11 years Maggie was the first teenager to have this 10 our surgical procedure and could hear the moment in a video they turned the device on for the first time you can see Maggie’s entire face light up as bright of the as the Sun I mean her eyebrows raised her eyes become like full bloom flowers her face lightens her whole body responds to this small beeping sound and her mother is crying too but her mother is crying for a different reason because when she saw her daughter’s face light up she whispered Maggie and guess what Maggie did she looked her mother just burst in tears we can a mad that though Maggie never lost her sight the receipt of her hearing informed her sight that day forward this makes me think about our first hearing of the gospel our first hearing of our fathers voice through the holy spirit in prayer through a person through a passage that you read a number of times but this time it happened to be just for you this makes me think about our first hearing we may not have had our hearing restored

as dramatically as Maggie but I’m sure that we all have our stories of Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me how we once were lost but now our found how we were blind but now we see but guess what it all started with the hearing and receiving of the gospel my dear dear brothers and sisters our Lord Jesus Christ has forever informed our site I charge you to hold on to it let’s pray thank you so much for your word father thank you for what you have spoken to each mind in each heart today in Lord what you have spoken may you keep may you Holy Spirit hold it tight may these words become as tattoos to our spirits we bless you Father in Jesus name Amen you

may the God of peace who brought up from the bed the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant equip you and every good thing to do his will working in you that which is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory forever and ever and ever and ever amen you you