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Divine Pretender

It’s so easy to slip into a life where our devotion is divided and not even realize it.  We serve THE king of the eternal kingdom, but we also let a bunch of little kings in a lot of little kingdoms siphon off our attention and energy and then wonder why we don’t experience the peace that Jesus promises.

Transcript:

our votes turn on the pastor discipleship and we are talking we're launching a new series today and I'm so excited because I've been waiting for this series to happen for like years we just we've looked at Colossians we've wanted it it's been kind of on the list of maybes for a long time and I am someone who if I can't sleep at night instead of counting sheep I do that thing of like if I could only have one book of the Old Testament what would it be it definitely Psalms if I could have one book of the New Testament what would it be if I could have one gospel definitely John and if I could have one letter of Paul it would be Colossians this is my go-to book I love it I read it a bunch of times every year it is so full of power as Paul explains to us what it looks like to really live a life in Christ and so we're gonna kick it off today and I oh my goal is today is to help you see how to read it what lens shall we see this book through as we go through it together in our groups and on our own and on the weekends how shall we see this and I'm just gonna beg you right off the bat please don't read it like an American don't read it through your American lens don't read it through the government you know the thing you've note that the democracy that you live in read it as if you are 1st century Jew can you just do that that'd be so helpful for me if you do that and because it's a whole different idea when you see what Paul was trying to tackle and when he's trying to tackle here is a grand assumption his he is trying to poke some holes in something that people have always believed and we have all kinds of these in our culture we have all kinds of assumptions that we just believe are true and then we discover oh maybe that's not as true as I thought can you think of anything like that anything we thought was true and then we discovered oh that's not true nothing the world is flat thank you pastor Evan for sitting in the front row you that's why he sits there in case no one has the answer evan has the answer we thought the world was flat and then when did we stop thinking it was flat Evon right he knows cuz he listened to the lat no you just knew that you had that on rolodex in your head 6 century BC we started believing that maybe the earth was the same shape as the moon and then the 3rd century BC is when it really did take root oh if I said ad before I met BC it took root and we started to say oh hey our assumption was wrong so 3rd century BC is when we start to believe the world is round although I didn't check online before I came in there are people who still definitely believe that that is a conspiracy theory so I don't know be careful out there is all I'm saying so there's a there's a prevailing mindset and it takes a while to come down that one was 3rd century but it took till 1863 to believe that Africans didn't have to be owned that they could be free and it's until 1922 believed that women were smart enough to vote and now they're they're voting you know I mean more do you know met it with the turnout for women as 10% higher than the turnout for men so apparently we took that seriously when that fell women started a vote so there are these things we believe and then they slowly start to change and it's like for it to be a very strong assumption it's something that most of the culture has believed for so long that it's become an invisible mindset you can't even really see it anymore it's just so much the way the whole culture thinks and for it to fall there needs to be a messenger or maybe a first bullet like when you watch a shoot-'em-up Western there's like a guide versus a guy and one bullet takes him out but when you watch a science fiction movie and the great big awful monster comes and they have to shoot it shoot it shoot it shoot it shoot it till it goes down that's what it takes for a prevailing assumption to fall you need like a lot of people to start to say I don't think so I don't think so I don't think that's true and so this letter colossians is the first bullet it's paul putting a hole in the set the idea of the right of kings which was the prevailing mindset of this time collages is attacking the underpinnings of this idea that the King not only makes the law not only enforces the law but is the law his word is divine his word he is God's man and he is acts in the place of God now this wasn't always the belief system Rome was a republic initially and the emperor was just the Emperor but then Julius Caesar took over and he did a lot of good things for the Empire and he expanded it and he fought and bulked up their military expanded their prosperity did a lot but was very controversial and then was assassinated in 44 BC and when he was assassinated the story began that a comment shot across the sky and they believed from that time on that Julius Caesar had gone to heaven to be a God so then Julius Caesar is who they look to as God but he is dead but before he died he had adopted his nephew Octavian as his son and in his will he leaves the throne to Octavian and Octavian takes the name Caesar from his adoptive father which makes him the son of God and then the Roman Senate adds to Octavian Caesar they add the title Augustus which means magnificent so all of a sudden we have just a regular guy born in you know the 1st century who is called the magnificent son of God that's a lot of power that's a business card I mean that'll preach that'll get you somewhere and so he is in charge and he is God and he essentially says to the Empire if you give me your devotion I will give you two things now this is really important because this is the place where we has 21st century Americans can step right into the church and colos we step right into their shoes we can understand them and we can be one of them and we can read Paul's letter to us just like Paul's letter to them because what he said he would give them his peace and prosperity they wanted security from their enemies and they wanted to be able to feed their kids and really no matter how awesome we are I mean no matter how advanced we are how cool our government is how great our voting machines are how our I phones work how we communicate with the other planets we're amazing and they look very rudimentary compared to our society but we are hardwired to basically require the very same things we want peace and prosperity that's what we want you look back at the 2016 election we want peace from our enemies that in that moment it was Isis and we want our economy to do well you go back to 2012 we wanted the very same thing you go back for years from that I can't do that subtraction I'm a words girl not a math girl we wanted peace and prosperity that's what we want we want a chicken in every pot and we want to be safe at our borders we want that and so we're exactly like the Colossians except the Roman Empire promised that they would give it and they encoded it in their system that if you give your devotion to the Empire if you give your worship to Caesar Augustus you will get peace and prosperity in fact they put Caesars image on the coin and my coin has started Washington which I like best cuz I think he's our most attractive president probably so we put him on the coin on one side and on the other side was the goddess PACs and that is the Latin word for peace and and the goddess had a sword of her feet and a scepter in her hand and around the scepter were two snakes intertwined and they signified commerce and so in all of society the message was going out if you serve me you'll get peace and prosperity peace and prosperity Pax Romana that's what you'll have if you're you're a citizen of the Empire if you're a citizen of the kingdom and so isn't it interesting though I don't know if it's like God's sense of humor or what that that we look at how they took this little man born in the Roman Empire and put on him a great big name and a great big title and pretended he was God because a comet had shot across the sky and then God takes this great big God and puts him into a tiny little body and sends him down a planet earth beneath a big star and the Angels come and they announce what peace on earth it's like he knows the timeline to which he's sending his son and he begins unraveling their grand assumption even with the story of the birth of Jesus right into the middle at all of it all the real king is born in a really small manger and it is a it is the whole reversal of the world system and so this is what Paul is talking about and he's writing to the church and Colossus and about 62 ad and he in this this church is an interesting one it was started by a man named Apophis I'm gonna talk more about a Paris in the sixth week of this series and he was converted by Paul then he gathers these believers together in Colossus and he begins a little church and Calais had been a city that was very kind of happening and bustling it was a showstopper of a place and then other cities Ephesus and Laodicea had grown up around it and had taken over and now Colossus was just sort of a backwater town it just wasn't it was like a market town it wasn't much of anything in fact it so wasn't much of anything it's one of the only New Testament cities not to have yet been excavated and so every service I tried to challenge someone to get out the money it will require to go excavate cloth because it'd be cool to Noah's down there right like their communion cups and stuff maybe so there is the church there and they are being bombarded with heretical teaching they're being bombarded with teachers who are telling them to worship other things to worship the stars there's all kinds of things going on and so it's in to that culture that Paul writes this letter he's writing it to them and he wants to take down this assumption it's into all of the propagandizing it's into all of the encoding all of the ways that Caesar has branded the empire with his own name and his own image and Paul writes to them and first he encourages them and he tells them to walk worthy in a manner of the Lord fully pleasing him bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God being strengthened with all power and then his words edged into this brand-new territory Paul starts to tell them something in that this verse is really the first bullet where he is gonna fire into this assumption of the Divine Right of Kings and he says God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son in whom we have Redemption the forgiveness of sins and so he now has moved his language about religion into the relief the language of politics now he's talking about the God who delivers us from a domain he's talking about a God who is the king of a kingdom and he's saying God not only saved your soul but he has picked you up from the kingdom that you give your devotion to and he's transferred you into the kingdom of his own dear son so this is good news especially because he goes on to tell us this kingdom is not equal with the Roman Empire it's not an equal and opposite kingdom it is a kingdom that is far above every kingdom listen to this verse the son is the image of the invisible God the firstborn over all creation for in him all things were created things in heaven and on earth visible and invisible whether Thrones or powers or rulers or authorities all things have been created through him and for him he is before all things and in him all things hold together and he is the head of the body the church he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that in everything he might have the supremacy he leaves no room here for any other a whiff of a God there's just used before it he's after it he's in it he holds it together he's through it he is everything and then he says for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus all his fullness so God's fullness doesn't dwell in Rome God's fullness dwells in his son to reconcile to himself all things whether things on earth or things in heaven by making what peace through his shed blood on the cross Paul just starts to unravel the idea of Pax Romana and says it's pecks Christos it's actually peace through Jesus Christ and it was made through his blood on the cross the kind of peace that you cannot get through government you can't I know our government is really peaceful right now and it's really relaxing like watch the news and I'm like oh this is so beautiful I meant sounded at us but honestly it is never gonna be that way it doesn't matter who you put in office the government was never meant to be the source of our peace and so then we end up kind of striving for it like what do we do to make our country better to make it cooler to make it more successful more powerful how do we protect ourselves how do we build a place for our children to grow up I want to do all those things I really do but it must be sourced in the king of the kingdom it must otherwise we're gonna get screwed up and weird and we're gonna present the wrong kind of gospel to our world and so well thank you I appreciate that I just I mean is anyone else relieved to know that it's just not peaceful out there and that's okay I mean it's just okay we don't have to fix it all but God is good and Paul isn't saying that that there's a better and equal power to God or another power he's saying that God is the God who created all powers that everything came through him and from him and everything is weak compared to him and I'm gonna say both names because I think I have to in order to get out of here with my life but God created Donald Trump God created Barack Obama God created Abraham Lincoln God is the prevailing power we don't invest our trust in men vote well but don't invest your trust in them that's what Paul is saying to them and it just when we thought we were so much cooler than them turns out we're not we're a back little backwoods little second-rate market town trying to find our peace and our leaders and so this is us we get divided between so many objects of devotion or adoration we are so desperate for peace and prosperity and our attention is so captivated by flashy displays of power we really are if you're an athlete you love the most powerful athlete if you're a yeah I'm I'm not even gonna go there cuz I didn't write it in my notes and I'll make a mistake when you start giving examples off the cuff it can go bad so fast so there are so many kinds of power that want to grab at our attention and they want to grab our devotion and we are a lot like the Colossians in that way and you know why it was so easy for Caesar Augustus to convince people that he was God when he really wasn't because humans are always looking for one we are always looking for a God with skin on we're always looking for something we can touch and see and believe and there it is even if I don't like that God it gives me comfort to know somebody's in charge the buck stops with somebody and so we're always looking for a God that's more present than the invisible God can I just tell you that our God makes zero apologies for being invisible he's he's not worrying about what you think about being able to see him like it'd be so much easier if I could hear you and you could talk to me audibly and I could see you right here in front of me he's like yeah you can't it's this is this is who we the nature of our relationship with him is that we believe in what we cannot see and so why do we want it I don't know but we do the Romans found it in a man the children of Israel made it out of a cow the people in Big Muddy made it out of Bhagwan we're gonna always find something to worship and maybe it won't look as Extreme as all those examples but it happens in my life all the time and I hope I'm not alone in that I hope it's not just me that's worshipping at the altar of all kinds of other stuff because I've got another you know ten minutes and if this doesn't apply to you I hope it does a few signs that you may have one foot in each Kingdom one is just a general sense of unfairness surrounding your life or a sense of comparison when you say I don't think I've gotten a fair shake I think other people have gotten better than me and I need more and I need better I need my life to look better be careful the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want the Lord is my king I have all I need the Lord is over all of these things and I want to be so careful that I live a life where I say I trust you with what I have with what I am with the gifts you've given me with the gifts you haven't given me I want to trust you with that if we connect our lack of lack to the leadership of God then we know who we really are we know that I may not have all I want but I have all I need I know that what he promises me is a flourishing soul he promised missus promises me an integrated soul with his purpose and so that I can hold on to that I can take to the bank another sign that we could have a divided heart one is is fear that hovers around your thoughts of the future everyone deals with some fears I've never met anyone he's like you know and I'm totally fearless I just don't worry about a thing even people who seem to have all the power all the money all the things usually are fearful about losing all the power all the money all the things and so really we tend to not live fearlessly but if we live with an abiding fear a hovering debilitating fear of what's gonna happen next that's a sign that maybe we're not trusting the king of the kingdom maybe we're hoping to find our peace somewhere else it is so easy to look around and just feel like whoa hmm what next what if I turn on the TV what will be on the TV honest in my life ever since 2011 out to 2001 with 911 every time I get up in the morning and check the news I'm like well oh no that's gonna be there today and so it is just really easy to get caught up in fear over how things are gonna go how it's gonna play out who's got an eye on North Korea what's happening here but really knowing that god is the king of it all is where our only reliable source of peace can come and then another way that we get caught up in undivided living in divided living is letting the language of politics become synonymous with the language of the kingdom I've talked a little bit about this already but this is not me trying to wrestle a current issue into an ancient text and make it fit this is in the Bible in fact the Pharisees come to Jesus and they say teacher we know that you are a man of integrity this Matthew 22 we know that you're a man of integrity you aren't swayed by others because you pay no attention to who they are but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth so is it right to pay the imperial texts to caesar or not should we pay or shouldn't we but jesus knew their hypocrisy why are you trying to trap me he asked bring me a Denarius and let me look at it they brought the coin and he asked them whose image is this and whose description Caesars they replied then jesus said to them give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's this is such a cool story because this is Jesus himself saying you've got the wrong system that coin is from another system that's the government that's the Qatar Kingdom this is the real kingdom and so you let it deal with itself you keep the money in the in that system and you serve me in my government in the kingdom and we get it mixed up so often how we see him through our government can be so tricky and again we get we get our story our the gospel loses its power when we start to preach the religion of politics it just does and so it must have been really disappointing when gee said this I mean those guys are trying to trap him they don't necessarily believe him but his disciples do his disciples believe he's the Messiah these are people who for centuries they and their ancestors have been always in bondage to another power always and they have been praying every day for the Messiah because the Messiah is going to come and fix their government the Messiah is going to come and upend it he's going to come and set things right and now these little band of disciples think they have found him and now they are standing here as they hear him say Caesar stuff is Caesar stuff I don't belong to that that must be really disappointing we really want him to come and put the white or the right guy in the White House we really want him to come and do the right thing for us in our country and I think it's good to want him to do the right thing for our country and I think it's good to love our country but I think we've just got to be so careful that our language about who God is is always connected to who God is always another way we find that we have a divided heart is when we're looking for quick escapes out of turmoil and calling that peace it's really tempting when things get hard and stressful and frustrating to build a quick escape route out and think okay now I feel peaceful it could be relationships it could be your job it could be education it may not be your government at all in fact there are plenty of people who don't trust the government for a minute but there are also all kinds of little escapes in our life all kinds of places we can turn there there are all kinds of addictions there are all kinds of things that I can say okay I can control this myself so I can create my own peace it'll be packs buh that'll be cool but it never works in fact my true confession is that I had a had a hard day at work and I was in my car driving home and I was just frustrated and turmoil and I literally thought in my car I can't wait to get home to the French bread like my coin the goddess with a loaf of French bread in one hand and a bottle of olive oil in the other that's that's my escape right into peace so bad it doesn't last long I mean French bread actually does last long results in many pounds but it's like we we build these escapes we build these shortcuts then we say there I've created a little bit of peace in my life I've gotten all that I've gotten all the ducks lined up in a row and everything's okay did you not turn on the news if you do that if you get peace in your life for a minute be careful don't answer the phone don't talk to a friend don't have a conversation with your spouse peace is right in the valence there Jesus offers lasting peace the peace that he made on the cross this is bigger than circumstances I have this theory that circumstances can still surface peace but they can't steal eternal peace and so we have to sometimes dive into the well of eternal peace in order to deal with our temporary turmoil just say that all I can do is apply the eternal gift of God to this temporary situation the last thing that's a sign that we could be divided and our devotion is that the gospel becomes more about bad news than good I think the gospel is such good good news it just really is it's beautiful it's the it's the news of a God who came to love you back to life and when we forget when we get our Allegiance even if we get our allegiance to the church instead of God or the church more than God we start to preach the gospel of behavior modification the gospel of belonging to a club the gospel of big events the gospel of all kinds of other things and the gospel of all things is good news and I am so sick of hearing people use the beautiful gospel of Jesus to beat people up with it just is not if the gospel isn't good news we're doing it wrong we're just doing it wrong I read this morning and Titus and added it into my notes real quick because I loved it so much when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared that's just such a beautiful set when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for Humanity appeared he saved us not by works of righteousness that we had done but according to his mercy we don't often preach the message of a kind kind God in fact I don't read anything in ancient literature that talks about the kindness of Caesar Augustus or his great love for mankind its power but but when we talk about God the ultimate power the first thing he calls himself is kind and loving and merciful and we need to preach that gospel to a broken world I wonder sometimes what is the closest approximate I have to a physical visible God what have I created into an image that has a piece of my devotion or affection that has part of my heart in a way that God says if you give it there you're going to only get the peace that comes from there but if you give it to me you're gonna get the peace that comes from me the peace that comes from the Cross it could be lots of things could be money or relationships could be all kinds of situations but God comes to restore to your life his rulership and his pacts his prosperity his joy his goodness and as we read through Colossians we're gonna look at the God who is coming to us to say there is a new king in town and he is worth following we're gonna read and it through every verse of Colossians if you can hold in the back of your mind his name will be called wonderful counselor Prince of Peace mighty God everlasting father and the government will be on his shoulders and of the increase of his government and peace there will be no and Jesus we thank you we thank you that your image is on the coin it's stamped and sealed with your blood and we thank you God that you have come into our lives and onto this point in our timeline and you want to speak to us you want to speak to us through the words of Paul you want to speak to us through the words of one another you want to speak to us how do we find true peace in an era of great chaos how do we find real pacts would you lead us that way God even as people today are juggling their own forms of turmoil and and frustration and unrest I ask that you would come to them and show them exactly what the next steps are to find your peace in that situation father we love you we praise you and we trust you with our lives with our government with our country and with our kingdom in your name we pray amen thanks so much for being here this morning you guys there prayer people that would love to pray with you if you'd like to just got something that's turning inside of you you want to find somebody with a blue light and they will pray with you and then let you go and please pick up a Colossians study guide I know they're little but they're awesome I wrote them and I love them and so I really want you to go through this with people just grab a couple of people and go through it and talk through it and print out Colossians and read it like a letter and you're gonna love it and it's gonna change our lives have a great weekend [Applause]

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