Today, we continued our sermon series through the book of Colossians. Currently, we are in Colossians 1:24-29. Paul’s complete thought ends in Colossians 2:3. In this part of the book, Paul defends his intentions and motives behind sharing the gospel, and he also gives some incredible insights into the gospel ministry. Because it’s Father’s Day weekend, I was thinking about Paul’s comments in light of being a dad. Christ called every believer into the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18) on some level; however, Dads have the incredible privilege of being the primary voice of influence in helping their children grow into full maturity as followers of Jesus.
Paul’s paragraph at the end of Colossians 1:24-2:3 gives a practical blueprint that Dads can follow in bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Suffering. Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
Fatherhood offers a unique opportunity for Dads to suffer, not necessarily in the chop-your-arm-off-way or a poke-your-eye-out-way. However, if you have a twelve-year-old son, you never know what could happen the next time he walks into the room with a nerf gun and a handful of toothpicks! Honestly, what is going on inside that brain!!! I mean to suffer in the sense of forgoing your comfort, ease, pleasure, and security to minister and serve your children. Paul could have stayed on the couch and watched his shows. Paul could have saved thousands of more dollars for retirement and scratched out many more rounds of golf, but instead, he denied himself the temporary pleasures and comforts of life so that others would not only hear the good news of Jesus but grow up in mature disciple-multiplying believers. Dad’s we are pretty good at taking care of ourselves (Ephesians 5:29), and if we aren’t careful, we can get frustrated with our children because they block us from getting the comfort we “think” we need. May the Spirit of Christ in us (Colossians 1:27) reveal our comfort cravings and help us to seize opportunities to forgo our ease and “suffer” for our children. It might look like listening to their stories, getting on the floor and playing with barbies, pushing them on the swing, or disciplining from a heart of love and not from a your-interrupting-my-me-time kind of way.
Service. Colossians 1:25-28 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Paul served to help people realize the “mystery of God,” which is “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Dads, our most significant responsibility isn’t making sure our children have cool clothes, nice things, make it to all their games, or even get to college. The “suffering” mentioned above isn’t so that our children have nice things (nothing wrong with having nice things). We “suffer” so that our children see a living demonstration of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for the whole world (Colossians 1:24). Fatherhood gives us thousands of daily opportunities to demonstrate this death so that eternal life can be worked into our children (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). Dads, the most significant point of suffering isn’t so that our kids will learn a good work ethic or how to be frugal with finances, nor is this suffering meant to make your children view you as their hero. It’s about helping your children see that Jesus is the Hero, and He alone can save them! Christian parenting is not about making little soldiers with perfect behavior; it’s about helping our children understand their “union with Christ” and helping them walk with their Savior. Any person can modify the behavior of a child. Dads, take the opportunity to help your children mature in their understanding and walk with “Christ in them.”
Strength. Colossians 1:29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
This type of leading/pastoring/shepherding/parenting is more challenging than just demanding people/children walk in a straight line. It requires faith and power that doesn’t come from worldly wisdom or tips and tricks from the latest guru. We find the strength for gospel parenting in Christ. Gospel parenting is passive. It doesn’t just “let go and let God,” nor does it leave this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and privilege to others. The word “labor” and “striving” in verse 29 are done in concert with Christ. Dads, respond in faith to the Spirit’s leading to “suffer” for your family so that Christ’s love, joy, peace, gentleness animates your body in humble Christ-dependant service of your children (Philippians 4:13).
How do we know if we are doing it? What does gospel parenting look like in my life? In a word, Jesus. It looks a lot like Jesus. In a few more words? Well, I think Paul details this in Colossians 2:1-3 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
I want my children’s hearts to be comforted by a full, complete, and working knowledge of the “mystery of God,” that is, “Christ in them.” I want them to walk through life with Jesus as their goal and power because in Him are hid “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”