Don't Do It Alone

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:1-17)

Over the last couple of days, we have dug into some core issues. We have identifed strongholds of false belief and begun to demolish them with the truth of Scripture. This is real spiritual warfare, so well done! In order for this to become our new way of living, we need to keep on going in it. We don’t demolish a stronghold in a couple of days. Depending on who you listen to, it takes anywhere from 21 to 40 days to break a bad habit. Changing how we think, especially if we have thought in that way for years, is an ongoing discipline. We can change our mind in a moment, but changing the thoughts that fill our minds will take time.

That’s why I find what Paul says in Colossians 3:11-17 so helpful. Having talked about our individual personal responsibility in verses 5-10, Paul now talks about the importance of working out our salvation in  the midst of community. One of the great joys of our Christian walk is our personal relationship with God. But that relationship is never meant to be worked out in isolation. We are saved into and sanctified within the Body of Christ – the church. Not just the church eternal and international, but the church local. What a glorious, messy privilege it is for each of us.  Paul does not sugar-coat what local churches can be like – if we were all part of perfect churches made up of perfect people we would have no need of compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience and, most importantly, forgiveness! The local church is full of broken people just like me, and together we step into our freedom in Christ.

Every year in December, usually around the 27th, I decide again that I will get myself physically fitter in the coming year. Full of enthusiasm I devise a running schedule (usually on a spreadsheet) and sometime in the first week of January I dig out my running shoes and go for a run. I return half an hour later, out of breath, and pop my trainers on the shoe rack until 12 months later! My January run has become a tradition. But this year something happened. As I write this in early March, I have been running 3 times a week since January 2nd. I am horribly slow and I am still out of breath, but I am still running! The difference this year? His name is Chris. He is my life group leader and he agreed to run with me, though it is more of a fast walk for him! Three times a week at 6am, Chris runs to my house to meet me outside my front door and to run alongside me. This is the power of community. Three times a week, a combination of friendship and accountability get me out of bed and into my running gear.

We have been set free by the work of Christ. Everything we need to thrive has been provided. We just need to step up and take hold of it. How do we do it? We do it together. As Christians, we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. But God did not just promise the Holy Spirit to individual believers (John 14:15-28, Acts 1:1-8). He also creates a community of the Holy Spirit – we are a Temple of the Holy Spirit together as a church (see Ephesians 2:19-22).

I am not just a Holy Person, I am part of a Holy People.
  1. Who is running alongside you right now? If you find it hard to answer that question, then spend some time praying about who you could team with over the coming weeks for encouragement and accountability
  2. How is your commitment to a local church? A few weeks ago we focused on forgiveness, so if you are struggling to connect to a local church then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any past hurts or disappointments that you might need to work through and forgive. The church is too important for you not to be at the heart of it!
  3. Who do you know who might be struggling to connect with local church community at the moment? How might you reach out to them in the coming season to help them re-engage with their church family?
Father God, I thank you for your church. Thank you that my generation of believers stands on the shoulders of the generations of believers that have gone before us. Where my passion for the local church has dimmed, help me by your Holy Spirit to see people as you see them. Show me how to encourage others and to walk in unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me pursue love, so that the church in which you have placed me may speak powerfully and prophetically to our community. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were written by Simon Elliott, who is executive pastor of our church.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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