In looking at our lives, we should ask, “How inviting is my faith?” Anyone who has ever worked door-to-door tell you that some places are inviting and some or not. You probably know what I mean. You can probably recall a house that you avoided; you made a point to walk on the opposite side of the street. On the other hand, you probably know of a home that always seems open and accommodating where you always feel welcome. Look at this passage again.
9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14
Paul and the other believers are praying for the recipients of this Word that they might “grow” and “be strengthened.” That can only happen in a “shared life.” A life worthy of the Lord is a shared life. We were built for relationships. We were wired to connect with others. So much of what Jesus taught involved relating to others in our faith. The Ten Commandments are all “relational” in nature. The first four deal with our relationship with God; the last six comprise our relationship with other people.
So it bears the question, “How do we grow?” First we grow through nourishment. We should be consuming the Word of God, “the bread of life,” consistently. It is not enough to whip out our Bible and find a power verse in a desperate time. This is the spiritual equivalent of starving for weeks and eating a cracker now and then to sustain ourselves. We need to FEAST on the Bible. We need to savor every morsel of the rich bounty that is Scripture.
Secondly, to grow we need to face resistance. Again. This comes with relationships. Many today have decided that isolation is the key to peace. They find it easier just to put up “No Trespassing” signs in their lives than to risk being hurt. Unfortunately they are wrong. Every person that I have seen make this choice not only misses the peace they hoped for, they become bitter and angry and sad having no one to share their lives with. Understand this the Scriptures speak of the “Trials that worketh patience.” (James 1:3) Just as an athlete builds strength through resistance, such as weight lifting, our spiritual lives grow through resistance.
Avoiding conflict, or even worse ignoring conflict, only leads to resentment and further isolation. We have to accept the fact that we are not going to always see eye-to-eye with everyone, but when we face our differences head-on God can help us to be strengthened.
In the late sixties there was a lot of social rebellion. One hub of that rebellion was in Ashbury district in San Francisco. There a young man, a seminary student named Kent Philpott, was drawn to start an outreach to this hippy generation. Kent developed a friendship with a David Hoyt, a practicing Hare Krishna. For all the “peace” and “love” that was volleyed about in the hippy culture, most (like David) were still desperate and searching. Over the course of many months Kent opened his home and his heart to his new friend. Patiently and persistently he shared the love and the truth of Christ with David. Ultimately, David came to Christ, and became a great teacher and leader in what has been called “the Jesus Movement.”
Unfortunately today, in the age of drive-thru wedding chapels and microwave pizza, we want everything to be quick and easy. We rarely exhaust the effort needed to truly share our lives with others, let alone patiently turn them toward Jesus. But isn’t that what we are called to? For Jesus did not say, “Go ye therefore and make converts.” said, “Go, and make DISCIPLES!”
Is your life a “shared life?” Or does this fit you better?
There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed or played.
He never risked, he never tried
He never sang or prayed.
And when one day, he passed away
His insurance was denied
For since he never really lived
They claimed he never died.