Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
» Get directions

Christmas 1 – December 30 – Col. 3:12-17 “Bearing The Image Of Christ”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Epistle Lesson just read, Col. 3:12-17.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ: 

  • Now that our celebration of Christmas has passed, we know “what we got for Christmas.”  I hope that you received good gifts, but even more that you are appreciative of what you were given.  Sometimes the anticipation is greater than the realization.
  • We have also remembered and celebrated what God has given us, given the whole world, in the gift of His Son, our dear Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  We have reflected upon the purpose of His coming, as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”  We have heard the Word of God once again, announced by the angels:  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom He is well-pleased.”  That is us – “those with whom He is well-pleased,” for “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” 
  • In the case of Christ, God’s great gift to us at Christmas, the realization is quite a bit greater than the anticipation – at least this is God’s will and His plan for us.  We see His will and His plan, and the wondrous nature of the realization and actualization of Christ’s redemption in the lives of His people, in the words of our text for this morning – and in our lives, if we are willing to allow Him to continuing giving His gifts to us in Christ Jesus!  For in His gift to us of a Savior, God has not only saved us “FROM” something, but also saved us “FOR” something – that we might “BEAR THE IMAGE OF CHRIST.” 

 

I.  We Are To “Put On” The Very Characteristics Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

 

A.  This Includes Holiness, Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Meekness, Patience, Forbearance Of One Another, Forgiveness, And Genuine Love

 

B.  God Works These Blessings In Us, So That We Put Them On And Live Them, Through His Word

 

Text:  “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

 

Statement:  We might think that what God has in mind is simply instruction in what is right and wrong, directions as to how we are to live our lives.  This is part of it – but unfortunately, simply knowing the difference between right and wrong, understanding God’s Law, does not have any power whatsoever to change us, or to imbue us with these characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In fact, Scripture teaches us that the law “kills” us, and actually inflames our sinful propensities.  The apostle Paul wrote:

 

Romans 7:7-11 “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”   But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.  I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.  The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.  For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”

 

Application:  Rather, the “Word of Christ” is most importantly a Word of gracious mercy and forgiveness, God’s gracious forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus.  You heard the list of things that we are to “put on.”  These are the very attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ – as we have come to know and believe His love for us:  compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and love.  This is what God has given to us in Christ Jesus, our dear Savior!  He invites and encourages us to live in His love, His compassion and mercy, His forbearance and patience – confessing our sins and rejoicing in His gracious mercy and forgiveness – and in doing so we are imbued with these very characteristics! 

 

So consider the application of this.  Suppose my wife gave me a really nice tool set – with cordless reversible drill, skill-saw, sander, and driver.  And I thought to myself, “This is really a nice present.  I’ll just sit and pull the trigger once and a while and listen the motor hum.”  After a while, I get tired of just listening to the motor, and conclude that it was a rather worthless gift.  But if I use the gift as it is intended, then I can build all kinds of nice things – bookcases, tables, shelves, other furniture, and I can fix all kinds of things and have great satisfaction and joy in her gift. 

 

Just so, God’s intent in sending His Son is to provide us with blessedness and salvation from sin – its guilt and punishment, AND ALSO from its power and its grip on us.  As we confess our sins and live in His forgiveness, mercy, and love, we actually become like Christ and bear His image – having compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and forgiving others in love. 

 

Transition:  Putting on these “characteristics” of our dear Savior is not just a matter of “listening to the motor” from time to time.  But rather:

 

II.  Those Who Bear The Image Of Christ Are A Great Blessing To Others

 

A.  What A Blessing To Live With People Who Live In “Holiness, Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Meekness, Patience, Forbearance Of One Another, Forgiveness, And Genuine Love” – For Then Christ’s Peace Rules In Our Hearts And Prevails In Our Relationships

 

Text:  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”

 

B.  Then All Praise And Thanksgiving Is Constantly Going To God – For The Great Gifts He Continues To Give To Us In Christ Jesus

 

Text:  “And be thankful. . . . Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

 

Statement:  When we live in honest repentance and confession of our sins, and in God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness, recognizing the greatness of His compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and eternal love for us, we are being changed and transformed into His image, just as the apostle wrote:

 

2 Cor. 3:16-18  “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.   Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.   And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 

 

 

Now this “beholding the glory of the Lord” comes by “letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” – and this produces a process of “transformation” in us.  The transformation is into His image, “from one degree of glory to another.”  This “comes from the Lord Who is the Spirit” – it is God’s work within us, His gift to us in Christ Jesus.  We allow Him to perform this work in us when we allow “the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly.” 

 

Application:  This is fully utilizing and embracing the gift that God has given to us that first Christmas of His beloved Son – Who not only has taken away the sin of the world, but through His love offers and produces transformation and renewal in His image within us, we who believe! 

 

And this is not a matter of simply “running and listening to the motor” once and while!  It is rather actually building beautiful and wonderful things out of love – with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and love for one another.  Such building is included in all our relationships – with parents, brothers and sisters, especially with our dear spouse, with our children, with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and also especially within the church, the very body of Christ Himself. 

 

And we must remember – this is God’s work in us, through the knowledge of Christ, which is supplied to us through God’s Word, the Word of Christ.  So we are to be passive in “letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly,” and as God does His renewing work in our hearts and minds, we become active in bearing the image of Christ to those around us.

 

Conclusion:  Now others will quickly point out that this does not make us perfect!  In fact, they will often doubt whether much of anything is really happening to us, just as we sometimes struggle to see these blessed changes in others – for the change is often slow and subtle, perhaps because we are unwilling to fully utilize the gifts of God in Christ Jesus by letting His Word dwell in us richly.  Our sinful nature, after all, is quite resistant to God changing us!   

 

So the encouragement of our text is to fully receive, embrace, and utilize the gifts of God in Christ Jesus – allowing Him to actualize the blessed image of Christ in us, through the Word of Christ.  This is a gift that keeps on giving – that increases exponentially in us, and that richly blesses those around us, the whole church, and indeed the whole world.  Assuredly, the realization is far greater than the anticipation – thanks and praise be to God!  May it be so for each of us!  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.