10.7.16 Trinity 7 Proper 10 Year C

Colossians1.1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.  3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.  9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Luke10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 He answered: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, `Love your neighbour as yourself.' " 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?" 30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,' he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' 36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" 37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

When the London-based property millionairess Golda Bechal died in 2004 she left a 10m fortune to Kim Sing Man and his wife who owned her favourite Chinese restaurant and who had been her "best friends". Relatives of Ms Bechal were so incensed by her decision that they mounted a legal challenge at the High Court. After a lengthy hearing, Judge Sir Donald Rattee QC dismissed the family's claims.

Ultimately, an inheritance is a gift and not earned. Being a blood relative does not counter the wishes of someone as to how their property is given.

The expert in the law thinks that he can earn eternal life. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 He answered: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, `Love your neighbour as yourself.' " 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?"

The expert probably thought that as a good Jew he deserved eternal life. He had been born into God's people, lived his life according to rules and regulations including temple worship. Yet, when he looks at the requirements of the Law he feels uncomfortable. To make himself feel better he asked Jesus who is his neighbour. Jewish teaching at the time said that it was his countrymen. But Jesus made him feel uncomfortable by telling the parable that showed that a Samaritan was a neighbour too. Yet, the Samaritans and Jews had generations of enmity behind them and this thought was beyond comprehension for the expert, who couldn't even bring himself to say the word "Samaritan", verse 37.

In contrast we have the Colossian Christians. Paul sees things as a gift from God through the work of the Spirit. 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. Paul's apostleship, the Greek word means "sent", came about by the work of God through the revelation of Jesus, enabled by the Holy Spirit.

The letter to Colossae was probably written to counter the teaching of the Judaisers, who said you had to trust in Jesus and obey the Jewish law and religion to be put right with God. But, the faith, or trust in Jesus, of the Colossian Christians was from God. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. Paul thanks God for giving the faith, he doesn't commend the Colossians for making the right choice of following Jesus.

God's help, by the work f the Holy Spirit is needed for the Colossians to live for God. 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

The message of our two readings is that faith must produce fruit. The expert of the law had religion but no fruit of love towards those who were not like him. Yet, in contrast, the Colossian Christians love for all of God's people was apparent. In verse 8 it is described as your love in the Spirit.

This love is needed today more than at any time. The answer to problems is not violence. We have seen that with the Chilcot report. The bombings that have have taken place recently in Baghdad, Saudi Arabia & Taiwan. The shootings of black people by police in the USA and the retaliation in Dallas. British troops are going to Poland and Estonia in response to concerns about Russia. I mentioned last week the racism that some people have shown in this country. Love is needed. A love that is found in God and released by His Spirit. Love is, after all, the first of the 9 gifts of the Spirit. In 3.12 Paul tells the Colossians to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Later on in Colossians, from Chapter 3.1 Paul lists practical ways in which Christians should live. But, we also see some pointers here. Note these things should flow from trust in Jesus, they are not a way of earning this. Paul describes these things as fruit. A fruit grows on a tree. It is a natural consequence of the tree being a fruit tree. So, Christians should produce fruit, including free, undeserved, compassionate love like that of the Samaritan for the Jew in the parable.

Paul prayed for the Colossins to grow the fruit of knowing God and His will. As we grow in knowing God, enabled by His Spirit and informed by His Word, the Bible, we will know and appreciate more about what He is like, how he wants us to be, and what he wants to do.

This leads to 11, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. It can be difficult to live for God at times. We need God's Holy Spirit to help us, notably by giving us endurance and patience. So, if you are going through a difficult time at the moment, or when you go through difficult times, pray for God's Holy Spirit to give you the power you need to endure and be patient. Perhaps ask a fellow believer to pray for you, too.

Difficult times will not last for ever. We have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven that can never fade, spoil or perish. We should, therefore, praise God, privately and together. 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

To summarise. Believers have received the free, undeserved gift of salvation from God, through Jesus Christ, brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit. No-one is good enough to earn there way to God. Believers should respond to that free gift by bearing fruit, enabled by the Spirit. This fruit includes love for others, growing in knowing God and His will, enduring, being patient, and giving joyful thanks, not just in public worship but in all of our lives.

A missionary society wrote to David Livingstone and asked, "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you." Livingstone wrote back, "If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."