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Bo Stern Brady: Empty and Full, Colossians 2:2, 6-9

May 23, 2022

Audio Recording

The natural condition of life for human beings is one of reciprocal rootedness in others. As firmness of footing is a condition of walking and secure movement, so assurance of others being for us is the condition of stable, healthy living. There are many ways this can be present in individual cases, but it must be there. If it is not, we are but walking wounded, our life more or less a shambles until we die.

Renovation of the Heart
Renovation of the Heart
Bo Stern Brady: Empty and Full, Colossians 2:2, 6-9
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:07 we've been looking at spiritual formation, in this series called renovation, and we've looked at the, the way we reorient our thoughts and feelings and decisions and body and, will and soul around and our relationships around Jesus in order to become like him, believing that becoming like him is our most satisfied way to live the most beneficial way to live. And, today we're looking at relationships and you know, the thing is that all the other ones, I think, feel like I can do that. As long as you don't put me out where people are, my thoughts are doing fine until I get out where people are. my feelings are fine until I get out among the people, then it gets problematic. And so the LA this message is super personal for me today. The last couple of weeks of my life have been, had kind of two tracks running.

00:59 One is that I've been kind of obsessed, low key obsessed with the trial between two celebrities who used to be in love. And now they really, really aren't. They decidedly are not in love anymore, and they're suing each other for millions of dollars. And it's just been fascinating to me and honestly, heartbreaking to watch the way our souls erode in the context of relationships. If we let them the way a beautiful love letters, authentic, longing for one another, to please one another and serve one another can become this great desire to destroy one another. It, it is a remarkable Petri dish illustration of what happens when our relationships are put in the ring to fight for themselves without any God, without any hope, without any, without being connected to something bigger. And then at the same time, my mother-in-law's been dying and she's been really, really ready to go. No one has been more ready to go than she was ready to go be with Jesus. And in fact, there was a moment when she said to her daughter, one moment in the hospital, I think I'm going now. And her daughter touched her hand and she said, mom, you're still really warm. And she said, shoot.

02:17 .

02:20 She was really ready. And she did go to be with Jesus last Friday. And we had her funeral this Friday. And, I watched as her children gathered around her bed just to help her with the home going, they never left her side. And, and you know, they talked to her a lot. They talked to her never once. Did I hear any of them? Say, mom, you were the best administrative assistant. Never once mom, you kept your checkbook so balanced. It's great. Mom. You died with money in the bank, not a single one. They said you were a great mom. You were a beautiful daughter to your parents. You were a great friend. And then they talked to her about heaven and she talked about it too, but they didn't talk much about what they didn't know. We talked, we were speculated a little on the food.

03:21 We did. She, she, when she was growing up also, I asked her one day, what did you wanna be? And she said, I always wanted to be a police woman, except I never learned how to drive. And then I said, well, maybe they're police woman in heaven. I don't know. And she said, well, what do you think they drive in heaven? And so we just had some of those discussions about things we can't know, but mostly what we talked about was who she would see her parents and her brother and her sister who she loves so much and her best friend and Jesus. And it just made me realize it's all about relationships. Again, it's all about relationships. We stood around her casket on Friday. And I was thinking, we say that in that casket are the remains, but really gathered around her casket are the remains of her life.

04:09 It's 55 children and grandchildren and great grandchildren who are there because of her faith and her love. And they, they will remain. And she will move on into eternity where things that she stored up ahead of her are waiting. And so relationships on this list of things we wanna, we wanna renovate. We wanna move toward the person and purpose of Jesus Christ relationships. My friend are it, they're the thing. It would be a lot easier to serve Jesus well without relationships, but there is no way. Spiritual formation essentially is Jesus told his disciples, love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and love your neighbors yourself. Sometimes we say that loving God and loving people, but I've come to have this motto in my life, loving God and loving like, God, those are, that is my twofold purpose in life, loving God and loving like God.

05:08 And the only way I can love, like God is to do it in the context of messy, difficult, broken, wounded, beautiful, incredible relationships. And so we wanna talk about that because as much as we would like to become like him, by just being with him, I, I, most of us who have done anything in theology have read brother Lawrence's book the practice of the presence, where he cloistered himself away and just spent time with God all day. And we read and we follow. And I'm like, but okay. but you didn't do. I mean, we have to do it out in the context of community. That's where we know, because we were created for this longing for love. And we were created for that same longing to be the true test of whether or not we love Jesus. Jesus gives us this one litmus test. People will know, you love me, by the way you love each other.

06:03 Our S spirituality cannot be formed in a vacuum. It requires the context of relationships, but this is huge. And harrowing the, during the trial this week, I was just watching the spectrum of love, blossoming to love breakdown, and realizing that though, that picture is admittedly really extreme. It is clear how our longing for love can destroy the very long. We love for the very love we long for. We can long for it so much that then we sabotage and destroy it. It's like porcupines that huddle together to get warm and then their quills poke each other. So they have to separate. We wanna be involved, but we wanna keep our independence. We wanna engage, but we wanna stay safe. It is a trick, tricky proposition to be involved in relationships in planet earth. This issue is as big and as fundamental as time since Adam and Eve fell for the lie that God was withholding from them.

07:04 Since Kain turned on, able since Saul turned on David and David turned on EIAH and the Pharisees turned on Jesus, we are embedded in a system that tells us we need people to survive and to flourish, but we also have to protect ourselves from those people and the ways they will hurt us. And when we distance ourself from a relationship to keep ourselves safe, it stops spiritual formation in its tracks. Are we, our relationships, I think, are the truest evidence of whether or not we have formed our thoughts, feelings, decisions, and soul around Jesus. They are the true test of our discipleship. So I wanna look at this one passage that I think really gives this beautiful picture of what it looks like to be spiritually formed inside of relationships, around the person of Jesus. It's Colosians two, two. It says my goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and United in love so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ in who are hidden, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

08:15 Now look at this. My goal is that they will be encouraged in heart and United in love. Why? So that they can then understand the fullness of Jesus. There is something we cannot know about Jesus. If we are not living in unity, it appears that there is something that is held back from us in spiritual development. If we do not live in flourishing relationships with each other, I don't make the rules. I just report them. This looks clear to me that Paul is telling us, as you live in United love, you're gonna start to understand the way that God loves how come because the way that he loves is inside community, inside relationship, God himself doesn't allow himself to live it out in a vacuum. And so unless we're willing to step into this idea that that our unity is a key piece of our becoming more like God.

09:19 And we'd like to believe like I'm gonna step away from relationships so that I can heal up and get full and do all these things so that then I can bring a healed self in a community. No, if you're hurt in community, you heal in community. If you're broken in community, you become whole in community. It's, it's all a process. And so the next thing he says is that, so then just as you received Christ, Jesus' Lord continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthening 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, and the elemental spiritual forces of this world, rather than on Christ for in Christ. All the fullness of the, of the deity lives in bodily form.

10:09 And in Christ, you have been brought to fullness. Another translation says you are complete in Christ. You're done, you're finished. You're complete in him. He is the head over every power and authority. So look at these two ideas here. It says, I want you not to be taken captive through hollow or deceptive philosophy, hollow and complete. You are complete in Christ, but the danger is that you'll fall for a hollow philosophy about what we're still talking about. That first sentence that you should be unified in love with each other. And then Paul gives you this warning. Be careful because people are gonna try to talk to you about something that is hollow and empty, but you are already complete. So don't bring your hollow deceptive philosophies into a community where that requires a complete understanding of the goodness and fullness of Jesus Christ. And so these words contrast against each other hollow, which means empty and complete, which means to make replete, to cram, to level up to furnish, to satisfy, execute, finish I in Christ, we have access to what we need, but our philosophy about human relationships is that we're always gonna have this kind of empty bucket that I need someone else to fill.

11:36 I'm gonna bring my bucket and hope someone else can fill it for me. I wanna bring my empty heart to someone and say, fill me or they bring their wounded heart and say, heal me. Or I bring my bucket to my husband and say, I'll fill you. If you fill me, I'll honor you. If you honor me, I'll serve you. If you serve me, we'll just, we'll just exchange some water in the bucket and hope it stays full.

12:02 This is the, this is the Jerry McGuire theology. You complete me. The, no, you can't. That's an impossible job for anyone, but Jesus ask my husband how easy it is to make me feel complete or beautiful or confident or loved or whole there's a little bit of it that he can do. But it, he, he CA does not carry the ownership of the whole thing because I am already complete in Christ. And when I can bring that full bucket to her relationship, I have plenty to splash around. And that's what I watched in my mother-in-law's life is people gathered around her bed and felt so sorry for her. She just gave us all love. Just love, just splashed it around freely. When I had children, it was one of the most incredible experiences to discover. I just didn't know. I could love a human that much.

13:01 I just didn't even know. But then I quickly discovered my kids had the power to fill or not fill one particular bucket in my life. And it was how I look as a mom. They alone had the power to make me look good or make me look bad as a mom. And when we start to feel like we're losing something out of the accepted mom bucket, what we are desperate to try to fill it, how do we fill it? How do we fill it? And the way I often choose to fill it is if their behavior embarrasses me and makes me look like a bad mom, I wanna offload my shame back onto them. And it doesn't ever work. They can't fill my bucket. They can't. And I have to love them out of completeness in Christ. When we contrasted to the way of Jesus, we see a, as opposed to this idea that you were here to fill the belongings of myself.

14:00 I think we even kind of bring our buckets into church. Like we bring 'em more like, I hope the worship fills me up today. I hope the speaker doesn't make me mad today. Sorry. I hope things go well today. I hope people are nice to me in the parking lot. I would, you know, fill my bucket. And, and I'm not saying you that you, you don't have the right to be treated in a certain way. We'll talk about that. But I'm saying we have to bring our complete selves into every situation that requires relational equity in order to be whole in order to do it right, because in Jesus, we are complete. I love when a good server at a restaurant always keeps my coffee cup full. I love that part. And I hate it when I, when it doesn't stay full. And I know it's a bougie American thing, but I just like my coffee topped off.

14:46 And I like to hope that I can find a way to live that way spiritually, just off. I don't need everybody else to make me okay. Cuz it only works. If I take my completeness into flourishing relationships, my husband can't complete me. I am completing Christ and I take that wholeness into relationship with him or it doesn't work. And there a million times it hasn't worked because I don't always live this out. I don't think we'll live this out perfectly, this side of heaven, but I think we can sure try. We all bring wounds into our relationships. We bring hard lessons. We've learned, we bring suitcases full of pain and experience that makes us weary and weary. And there are two ways we are wounded inside of relationships. I know it sounds like there are a million ways, but they're really just, they all fall under two umbrellas and they are assault and withdrawal.

15:39 Assault is just any way we work against the good of another human, even with their consent assault. And we, we do that with words, we do it with actions. We do it with all kinds of things. And then withdrawal is maybe the more painful of the two. When we just stop showing up, we just stop being available. We stop, we close off access in our lives to another person to whom Jesus has called us by keeping our risks low and our rewards high. That is the hollow way. The way of abuse and loneliness and lawsuits is the hollow way. When I just hope you can keep me filled. And I am always guarding my self-esteem and my worth and my beauty and my, talent and my intelligence. I'm just guarding it to make sure no one thinks less than me than I think you oughta think the emptiness we bring to relationships will almost always lead to the death of something.

16:39 However, there is an answer and the answer is formation. We orient our whole selves around the person and purpose of Jesus Christ. When we bring our starving souls to his table and ask him to feed and fill us. This is formation. I, I have realized this, that as I'm reading about who Jesus is, and I see a principle about the way he loves, as soon as I can put that in my life and start to use it as soon as I can like ingest that truth and let it turn into muscle, then I start to change in the way I view relationships. And so as you read about the way of Jesus, you will find all kinds of things that he is gentle and kind and peaceful and loving and conf confrontational and all kinds of things. And if you can just pull that piece out and say, how do I put that into my bucket in the way that I live?

17:32 How do I let that become a part that makes me complete? How do I take that into my relationships? There are five specific things that sprung to mind as I was studying for this. I wanna share them with you. These things that I believe when you are completeing Christ, you will bring these particular things into your relationship. There are probably a hundred of them, but these five I think are really important. The first one is kindness. Kindness has sort of gotten kicked under the rug in the last couple of years, we've started to see kindness as weak or as abdicating our convictions, but kindness. I mean the Bible calls kindness a law is the law of kindness and it is so strong. I, I read a, a tweet during the 2020 elections madness that by a Christian leader that said enough of this turn, the other cheek garbage, we need to stand up for our rights.

18:28 And I was like, wait, the turn, the other cheek garbage is not a cliche. That's the words of the God we profess to serve and follow that's actual Jesus we're quoting. And so this idea of kindness as weakness, I am telling you is a lie and it is permeating our culture in a dangerous way. And it is permeating the church in a death producing way. Kindness is powerful. We know we've drifted away from the way of Jesus. When we started treat his words like a suggestion instead of a commandment like, well, if Jesus lived in our age, he would absolutely have to bring out the big guns. No Jesus' age was difficult. he, he experienced some rough times. And so we need to learn how to be kind in a, in a world that isn't, it requires intelligence and supernatural grace first Corinthians 13 says love is patient and kind love is not envy or boast.

19:29 It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist in its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears. All things believes, all things, hopes, all things, endures, all things. And Ephesians 4 32 says be kind to each other, tender hearted for giving one another as God in Christ forgave. You listen. I know the times are dark and I know it's really hard out there. And I know it's really brutal out there, but I read a quote. I love today by LR knows. She said, it's not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to create children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless. This is who we are. If we don't do it, who will, if, if we aren't kind in our dealings with humankind who will be, this is up to us to change the world through kindness in order to become like Jesus in our relationships, we're gonna have to prioritize kind over cool kind over cunning, kind over funny, kind over, right.

20:34 We're just gonna have to second thing we see in the way of Jesus, that when we bring this into our relationships, it will change them. As wisdom being complete in Jesus helps us bring wisdom into our relationships. And this is such an important one because all relationships are not created equal in your life. Every human is worthy of honor and kindness, but every human is not gonna get your time and attention. They're not. while each one will, will require some things from you, you do not need to give them unlimited access to your life. Some relationships require boundaries, sometimes very strong boundaries when we do. And so when do we decide to give everything to our relationship? And when do we say that's not healthy for me anymore? When do we extend grace? And when do we confront, when do we lay down our rights?

21:25 And when do we insist on better treatment wisdom, we need wisdom. We need to know Jesus to do relationships. Well, Proverbs four says, do not forsake wisdom and she will protect. You love her. And she will watch over you. Wisdom is Supreme. Therefore get wisdom though. It costs all you have get understanding. I think wisdom is such an important aspect in relationships. And I see more relationships sidelined because the, because of the refusal to, to develop it than almost any other thing. The third thing that a complete person takes into relationship is sacrificial love. John 13 says, as I have loved you, so you also should love one another. That's he set the bar really low, huh? As I have loved you. So you need a love. This is how all will know that you are my, my disciples. If you have love for each other, there is no getting around.

22:19 The fact that sacrificial love is the very definition of the way of Jesus. We are a very evolved society. We value self care, which requires self focus. And that is not bad. In fact, it's essential because caring for ourselves fills us up. And, and it prepares us, I think, as our, for our job as followers of Jesus. But, as I truly care for the needs of my own soul and let the life of God reach into my broken places, I then have more capacity to give to each other sacrificially. I know people are wired differently. I'm an introvert and boundaries are not hard for me, but my friend is an extrovert and she is fueled by people, especially by serving them. And if you are sick, she will cook you a meal. And if you need a ride to the airport, she is your gal.

23:07 you need a new resume written in two hours, contact her. She'll she'll drop what she's doing and make it happen. I am not this way, but both of us can get in trouble. If we just stay embedded in our own tendencies, I have to ask myself every day and she needs to ask herself every day. What does love require today? What does love require in this relationship, in this situation with this child, with this spouse, with this friend, excuse me, with my parents. What does love require? The next thing that a complete person takes into relationships is humility.

23:46 Philippians two gives us this clear picture of Jesus. Please read it. Don't have time. But, this clear picture of Jesus laying down every right, every honor, every accolade, every crown in order to serve wicked humanity, he sets the bar. He sets the example for us to follow. And so I think humility also not weak. It is strong and focused and powerful as we make a way for others to succeed and thrive. We are also building something beautiful in our own lives. And I think humility can seem like kind of a nebulous concept. How do I just be humble? But the, I I'll just give you one way to start one way to start employing humility in your life. Right? This second is listen, listen to people more, listen to what they're saying, listen to what their hearts are feeling. But aren't saying, put down your phone, have some eye contact.

24:44 Humility says, I wanna know how you're feeling more than I wanna tell you how I'm feeling. It's humility. My husband and I have three, three rules for arguments. Be kind, be curious, don't interrupt. And it works. It really helps. It doesn't help us not have arguments, but it helps us in the end, we have achieved our goal, which is always unity. The only thing worth winning is unity. And so be kind, be curious. Don't interrupt because I wanna hear what you have to say more than I wanna tell you what I have to say. I think all humility starts with listening. We see Jesus do it so often he could answer all the questions, but he doesn't. He keeps asking more questions. The last thing that we bring into relationships when we are complete is forgiveness and resilience. I know that's two things, but I tricked you forgiveness and re resilience.

25:41 A couple of months ago, I shared what I think is one of the key principles of life and faith. I get knocked down, but I get up again. And this is something we have lost in relationships. We cut and run so fast. I, you hurt me. I'm done with you. I'm on to somebody else. But forgiveness says, I forgive and I am resilient. I'm willing to step back in the ring. I'm willing to step back into the context of relationships where I may get hurt. Again. I'm willing to risk my love and my, my opinions and my, my right to be right. I'm willing to put all of this on the table and say, relationships are the thing that I'm taking to heaven. And so I'm gonna nurture them. Now I'm gonna take care of them. Now I'm gonna be willing to forgive and love and love.

26:28 Like God, I'm gonna keep going with the strength and determination that Jesus will keep me safe inside of relationships. Proverb 17 love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it, separates close friends, James one consider a pure joy. My brother, brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith, and I will say the testing of your relationships produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature. And what complete it's the testing that produces completeness. And it's completeness that we take into a hollow empty relational world. And as we take that into the world, we're able to give out the love of God to others without fearing, that will be left without back to my mother-in-law's funeral. She was a strong Irish Catholic woman. I am a strong Swedish Mennonite girl.

27:32 We wouldn't have agreed on everything theologically for sure. And I realized at one point, but I, I just never have had a single doubt on how, how passionately she loves Jesus and I, she never had a single dad about me. And I was thinking about this when we get to heaven, I, I don't know what to believe. I don't know what to think about what it will be, except I don't think the Bible promises that we're gonna all agree and sorry. I, I just don't think it does. I don't see that anywhere. I, I think it will be lovely to believe that that, that it, you know, in heaven, everyone will know that Lord of the rings is the best movie of all time. Sorry. And then there will be the rest of us. They're like, we didn't watch it. it's me and pastor Steve. and I realize that I have had this tendency throughout my life to think when that person gets to heaven, they'll finally see it my way.

28:33 Cause I'm so humble that way. No, it's just because you, we live believing that what we believe is right. That's why we believe it, but I dunno that we're gonna agree on everything, but I do know we're gonna agree on one thing and that's Jesus, because it says we will all see him as he is. And then what, and then we'll be like him. And why is it that seeing him as he is, will make us like him? I suspect it's because when we see him as he truly is any other way will seem absurd. That's what I expect that when we see the way the love of Jesus is poured out on humanity, on people who don't deserve it, we're gonna say, oh, yep. That's the way. That's the way we may still disagree about politics. We may still disagree about what's the best dinner on a Saturday night. We may still disagree about a lot of things, but we will learn when we see him as he is and become like him, how to live with the diversity of our opinions and our thoughts and our beliefs in perfect unity, because we bring our complete selves to the relational table. Doesn't that sound like heaven. And wouldn't you like to start now?

29:55 I think it's an intriguing idea. So Jesus, you see in this room, many, many stories, you see stories of hurt and wounding and hope heartache, and God today we ask that you would come and be the filler of every heart. Be the healer of every soul. As we take a look at the landscape of our souls next week, I ask that you would help us to see where the relationships that we love and the ones that we don't love fall in the picture of this and how they're motivating and moving our lives and how they're they're they're progressing or stopping our spiritual formation, because we want to be like you. And we want to love like you, we thank you this morning for your goodness, your wholeness and your grace toward us. We asked that we would see you a little more today as you really are, and that we would become a little more like you in your name. We pray. Amen.