Look Nowhere Else Besides Christ
September 10, 2017 Speaker: Mitchel Kirchmeyer Series: Colossians: "Look Nowhere Else! Christ Is Everything"
Passage: Colossians 1:1–4:18
Why should we look nowhere else besides Christ? Because he is everything, he has done everything, and he changes everything about us.
Usually we buy things because there is a need in our life. We are hungry, so we buy food. A pair of pants got a hole in it, so we go and buy another pair. Our pots and pans are wore out so we buy new ones. We buy things because there is a need in our life.
But when you go to the store or shop online, there are dozens if not hundreds of options to fill that need. Just think about salad dressing. If you run out of salad dressing and go to the store to get some, there are dozens and dozens of flavors and brands. Ranch, Bleu Cheese, Italian, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Thousand Island, Caesar, Honey Mustard, French, Buffalo, Poppyseed. You can get it normal, light, fat free, organic. You can get it from Kraft, Good Seasons, Wish-Bone, Great Value, Hidden Valley, Skinnygirl, Annie’s, Maple Grove, Bolthouse. If you search “salad dressing” on Walmart’s website, there are 50 pages of options. Why do you choose?
There is an interesting observation some people have made that having all these choices really isn’t that great for us. We become overwhelmed by the options and go into decision paralysis or if we make a decision we are constantly second guessing it. With so many options, if we aren’t completely satisfied with our purchase we are the only ones to blame for picking the wrong one.
Today we are finishing our series in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae. Paul was an early follower of Jesus and he is writing a letter to other followers of Jesus in Colossae. When we started this letter, I shared that Colossae was a city filled with diversity. It was at the crossroads of two well-traveled highways. Because of this, it was ethnically diverse, religiously diverse, and philosophically diverse It was a place where many different religions and paths to spirituality existed and even mixed together.
In that environment, there were some who were pressuring the Christians in Colossae to add something to Jesus. They wanted the Christians to second guess their wholehearted devotion to Christ. Saying, “Look, if you add this to Jesus, you will enhance your spiritual life.” But when it comes to a full and abundant spiritual life, Paul says, “Look Nowhere Else! Christ Is Everything.”
This isn’t too much different from today. There are hundreds of options when it comes to salad dressing, but there are also many options when it comes to our spirituality. Remember, we go out to buy something when we have a need. Everyone can sense a spiritual need in their life and as we go out into the supermarket of the world, there are hundreds of options for filling that need. Which do we choose?
Just like Colossae was a city with a great amount of spiritual diversity, Woodstock is as well. Just walk around the square and you will see a long menu of spiritual options. But it’s not just Woodstock. We have so many spiritual options in our world today, how do we chose which one will fill our spiritual need?
Today, we are doing something a bit different than usual. Normally, we take one passage of Scripture and look deeply at the whole thing. But today we will be summarizing what the letter to the Colossians is all about.
The big question this letter answers is: Why should we look nowhere else besides Christ? Why should we look nowhere else besides Christ?
With a deep spiritual need to be filled and a world of options, why should we look nowhere else besides Christ to fill that need?
We will summarize the letter in three parts.
Let’s look at the first part.
Because Christ is everything.
The first two chapters of Colossians are about how the Colossians received Christ as their King. First, they heard the gospel from Epaphras. The word “gospel” means “good news” and it is the good news about who Jesus is and what he has done. When they heard this good news, it took root in their hearts. Paul sees the gospel as a seed that was planted in Colossae which took root and is now growing and bearing fruit.
As Paul reminds them about how this good news came to them, he reminds them about Christ’s credentials. He reminds them about how Christ is qualified to handle their spiritual needs. “Yes, there are lots of other options out in the religious supermarket and people are pressuring you to add some of them to your cart. But remember who Christ is. You don’t need to look to other options.”
So who does Paul say Christ is? Paul quotes a hymn to give them the answer. In chapter 1 verses 15 through 20, we hear that Jesus Christ existed before all things and that all things were created through him and for him. Christ is our Creator. Nothing exists that wasn’t created through him. Our existence comes from Jesus. At the same time, all things exist for him. In him, we find our origin and we find our purpose.
But not only is Jesus our Creator. The hymn also says he is our Redeemer. The Creator of all things took on flesh and became a human. God in the person of Jesus walked the dusty roads of 1st century Israel as a human being. Why? So that he could reconcile all things to himself. One of the deep spiritual needs we feel is our separation from God. Whether we recognize it internally, we can see the results of this separation externally. We can see how our rebellion against our Creator has affected our world. Things are not the way they are supposed to be. But internally we also feel that things are not right. We are searching to fill the void left in our heart and soul by God’s absence. There is an unrest. Jesus came to redeem us from our separation. He came to reconcile us to God. Christ is our Creator who defines our purpose but we all live for our own purposes instead of for his. Because of that we need to be reconciled with him.
The big question this letter answers is: Why should we look nowhere else besides Christ? The first reason is: Because Christ is everything. Because Christ is everything.
Sometimes when you call to a tech support place, you know the first level person can’t solve your problem. You can tell they don’t really have the depth of knowledge and expertise to deal with your issue. So maybe they transfer you to another department or they may say those words you want to hear, “Let me transfer you to my manager.” Now you know you are moving up the chain and getting someone with more expertise to deal with your issue.
Or sometimes you are sick and just don’t know why. You keep going from doctor to doctor, trying to get an answer but you just keep getting answers that don’t quite get at the root cause. They are prescribing things and giving you diagnoses but not really hitting the nail on the head. They are failing to fully deal with the issue so you keep looking.
Jesus is the highest level tech support. He is the doctor who made us and knows us. He can deal with our issues. We don’t need to shop around or get referred up the chain of command. We’ve reached the top. Jesus has the highest credentials. He can take care of our spiritual need. There is no one higher. The best person to fix your car is the one who made it. Jesus made us and he knows how to fix us.
Know that in Jesus you find the one who can deal with all your spiritual issues. There is no one better - no one more knowledgable about you and no one more powerful.
But the problem is we can continue searching. Even when we have found the one who is everything we need, we continue searching. We act like he does some good for us, but we need just a little something more. What if he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing? What if he can’t really provide everything for us? So we keep shopping around. We do this without even thinking about it.
Jesus is our Creator so he defines who we are but we continue to find our identity apart from him. We define who we are based on how much money we have or by our jobs or by our possessions. We define ourselves by our successes and failures. If you don’t find your value and worth and your sense of who you are from Christ, then you are finding it elsewhere.
Jesus is our Creator, so he defines why we are here. But we so often live for other purposes. We live for other people’s respect and admiration. We live for our kids. We live for money. We live for comfort and relaxation. If your life’s agenda isn’t set by Christ, then you are finding your purpose outside of him.
Jesus is our Redeemer, so he is the one who brings us back to God. He is the one who frees us from the slavery of living for ourselves. He returns us to the one our heart longs for. And yet, we will still try to get back to God on our own terms. We try to make our own way even though Jesus has made the only way. Deep in our hearts we know something is wrong and we keep looking for the thing that will fix it. But we find the one who can fix all that is wrong with us in Jesus.
Because Christ is everything, you can stop searching and start enjoying. When you have a need and you go looking for it online or at the store, there is a satisfaction in finding the exact thing you were looking for. Christ is the exact thing your heart and soul are looking for. So instead of continuing to search, you can enjoy finding every need in him.
Our friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers can sense that they have a spiritual need and they are searching for something that will fill it. Wouldn’t it be good news to hear that the search can be over? That there is one person who can truly deal with and handle everything they are going through?
The big question this letter answers is: why should we look nowhere else besides Christ? The first reason is: because Christ is everything. Let’s consider our second reason.
Because Christ has done everything.
Paul reminds the Colossian Christians of Jesus’ credentials. On Jesus’ resume he has the titles of Creator and Redeemer. That’s who he is. But as we look down, what is his work experience? What has he done?
Paul reminds the Colossians of the work Christ accomplished in his death and resurrection. He reminds the Colossians of what they were without Christ’s work: they were alienated from God, they were even hostile toward him, they were living in a kingdom of darkness, and they were dead in their sins. Later in chapter 3 he says all who are living in this state are under God’s judgment - under his wrath. These are all images of separation and indicate that there is something wrong deep inside us. The core of our being is infected with a spiritual disease that makes our hearts hard and cold to God. And we know that we have done wrong. We either live with that guilt and do nothing about it or we deny it and convince themselves we are a good person or we work hard to make up for the wrong we have done.
But none of these will do. None of them gets rid of the guilt. Each of us is guilty before a holy and righteous God. But we cannot free ourselves from our spiritual state. We cannot free ourselves from the kingdom of darkness. Dead people cannot make themselves alive. We cannot pay the penalty our sins deserve. We must be rescued by someone else. We must be brought back to life. Someone else must pay the penalty for our sins.
Paul tells us that when we trust in Jesus, we are reconciled to God. Our sins are forgiven! We are rescued from spiritual darkness. And Jesus does spiritual heart surgery on us so that we are no longer hostile to God but our hearts beat with love for him. Our heart that was hard and cold toward God is now healed and we desire to know and love him.
All this is made possible because God took on flesh in the person of Jesus and then died the death we deserve. Our rebellion against God deserves spiritual death. But the good news is God has shown grace - he has given us what we do not deserve. Jesus took on the punishment for our sin by dying in our place 2,000 years ago. Then he was raised to life showing that he had indeed defeated the kingdom of darkness that enslaved us.
The big question this passage answers is: why should we look nowhere else besides Christ? The second reason is: Because he has done everything. Because he has done everything.
We were separated from God. But Christ has done everything to repair that relationship. He has done everything to bring us near again. There is nothing left to be done. We simply trust in him as the one who can fix what is broken in us and our relationship with God.
In 2007, Steve Jobs revealed a new device at MacWorld in San Francisco. He said that this year Apple was going to come out with three revolutionary products. One is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The iPod was their music playing device but it had a little screen and had buttons to control it. The second product was a mobile phone, which they hadn’t come out with before. The third product was a device with which you could browse the internet. Then he revealed that all of these features would be in one device: the iPhone. Now you could listen to music, call people, and browse the internet all on one device. Do you remember when all this stuff was separate? You would have to have a walkman or mp3 player, then you’d have a phone connected to the wall, and a computer for browsing the internet. Now we carry them all in our pocket. This one product takes care of all those needs. It does it all.
Just like the iPhone is the one product you need to connect you with your music, your friends, and the internet, so Jesus is the one person you need to connect you with God. He does it all. You don’t have to shop around for other ways to get connected with God. You don’t need Jesus plus other things. We were alienated from God, hostile toward him, living in darkness, and dead in our sins. Jesus takes care of all that!
Other spiritual programs tell us about what we need to do. Christianity is about what Jesus has already done.
Know that Christ has done everything you need for spiritual fullness. Complete connection with God comes from something already done for you. He is the only one needed to fill us spiritually. We have a deep spiritual need, and Jesus is the one who meets it.
But we so often think more needs to be done. There are lots of really nice things we get in life, but usually we have to make monthly payments for the really big ones. We all need shelter, but most of us take out a mortgage to get it. So we can believe, “Well, Jesus gave me this really nice thing. He connected me with God and now I have a relationship with him. But I need to make monthly payments. I need to make sure I read my bible the right amount, pray the right amount, love other people the right amount, go to church things the right amount. Because if I get behind on my payments, I start getting notices that I’ved missed them and eventually I lose the connection.”
That’s not how it works. When Jesus reconciles us to God, he pays the whole amount. There is no payment plan. He has done everything that is necessary. We can rest in Christ’s finished work on our behalf. Now, it is true that we might not be experiencing that connection as strongly as we’d like. If Katie and I don’t see each other for a week, we are going to feel less connected but we aren’t any less married. The same is true about our relationship with God. Perhaps we haven’t done things to experience connection with him and so we feel less connected, but Christ already paid the price to bring us into his family.
Because Christ has done everything, you can stop working and start resting. You don't have to work and strive to connect yourself with God. Jesus has done that. But so often, we live like Jesus has done all the work to setup up a hammock for us and we'd rather lay on a rock pile on the ground. We scrape together some grass clippings to put under our head to make it more comfortable. But we keep adjusting and are restless. Why? Because we are laying on a rock pile! Jesus has done everything and we just have to rest. He has done everything to bring us back to God and give us a relationship with him. But even though we see his work on the cross and in the resurrection, we settle for the rock pile next to the hammork. But Christ has done everything, so you can stop working and start resting. You can just lay down in his finished work and enjoy it.
As you think about people in your life, there are many people who live with constant guilt. Either they know their work doesn’t measure up to connect them with God or they hope that it does. Wouldn’t it be good news to hear, “You are doing all this stuff to make it up to God but you don’t have to do. The work is done. You can rest. You don’t have to be worried if you have done enough or hope that you have because all the work is already complete.”
The big question this letter answers is: why should we look nowhere else besides Christ? The first reason is: because Christ is everything. The second reason is: because Christ has done everything. Let’s consider the third.
Because Christ changes everything about us.
Paul reminds the Colossians of Christ’s credentials: he holds the titles of Creator and Redeemer. Then he reads further on his resume and reminds them of Christ’s work experience: he has done everything to reconnect us with God. But if you are looking at someone’s resume, you don’t want to just see the work they’ve done but you want to know if it was effective. What were the results? Did it produce anything? That’s where Paul focuses his attention in chapter 3.
In chapter 2 he told them that Christ had performed spiritual heart surgery on them. They were united with Christ in his death and resurrection. They died to sin and were made alive together with Christ to live for God. They were forgiven of their sins. And because Christ has done everything, they don’t need to look to other spiritual programs. Chapter 3 tells us the change this makes in their everyday lives. They are now identified with Christ so they should set their minds on him - they should focus on who he is and what he has done. And they should align their lives accordingly. The change is that they have put off their old selves ruled by selfish desires and they have put on their new selves ruled by the character of Christ. There has been a fundamental change in their life that goes to the very core. Trust in Christ isn’t about behavior modification. It is about inner transformation and it spills over into how we live in our church family, in our households, in our workplaces, and in the rest of the world.
The big question this letter answers is: why should we look nowhere else besides Christ? The third reason is: because Christ changes everything about us. Because Christ changes everything about us.
Who we are has been changed at the deepest level. The gravitational pull in our lives was once toward living for self: self-exaltation, self-promotion, self-righteousness, self-protection, self-expression, and any other self word. But Christ’s work has produced a change in our lives. The gravitational pull is no longer toward self but toward God. We want to live for God now. We are being renewed from the inside out.
Know that Christ changes your past, your present, and your future. Christ gives you peace for your past. For what we did 20 years ago, what we did 2 years ago, what we did 2 weeks ago, what we did 2 days ago, 2 hours ago, 2 minutes ago - Christ gives you peace because he has done the work to pay for those sins.
Christ gives you power for your present. We are no longer slaves to doing what God hates. We have been set free from living that way to live new lives. We can choose to do what is right over what is wrong. Christ has done the work to give you power over sin in the present.
Christ gives you hope for the future. Who you are becoming is a result of Christ’s work in you. When he returns to bring his kingdom in full, we will appear with him in glory. Christ’s work secures a future for you in God’s presence free from sin.
Even though this is true, we can still shop around for change. We shop around without knowing it. We try to find peace through numbing the pain of the past or by making up for it in the present. We try to find power in ourselves to overcome our sin instead of relying on Christ and the community he gives us. We try to find hope by controlling the future and forming it to be what we want it to be.
There are many products out there that promise change. We have all seen diet fads and get rich quick schemes. But we know they are just superficial. They don’t bring real, lasting change. With Jesus, we know we get what he promises because of who he is and what he has done. He has the credentials to back it up. He truly changes us at the core.
Because Christ changes everything about us, you can stop wondering and start trusting. You don’t have to worry about your past or your future. You don’t have to wonder if you can really beat sin in your life today. You can trust Christ is enough and trust him to change your past, present, and future.
How many people do you know who are living with regrets of their past, are trying to overcome issues in the present, and want hope for their future? Wouldn’t it be good news to hear that Christ has the power to transform all of those? Not in a superficial way, but in a deep, meaningful way? People want change and Christ can provide it.
The big question this letter answers is: why should we look nowhere else besides Christ? The first reason is: because Christ is everything. The second reason is: because Christ has done everything. The third reason is: because Christ changes everything about us.
In a world of many options, we can be confident that Christ is the only one we need. So we can live with wholehearted devotion to him. We don’t need to shop around or wonder if we need something else spiritually. We can confidently look nowhere else because Christ is everything.