I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, – rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness  (Col. 2:4-7).

There is no doubt that Paul was a hard worker! But how could he be a hard worker in prison, for example? He may not have worked hard manually, but his mind and his spirit were always busy – he had many churches and many fellow believers for whom to contend.

His one goal for which he ceaselessly strived, was to present everyone mature in Christ. He bent all his energies towards this one purpose – thinking, praying, writing and teaching – whether he knew them or not and whether he was with them or not. How many pastors and spiritual leaders have a goal like that for their people today?

Maturity was not about how successful they were or how well they coped in life as individuals, but how they functioned together in the body of Christ. They were to be one in heart and mind as they did life together in union with Jesus as their head.  They were to draw their life from Him, and live in submission to Him and in mutual submission to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? It is if it were not for the Holy Spirit in them whose role was to lead them into all truth and to reveal Christ to them as their model. The Holy Spirit provided the energy to do what was impossible for them to do without Him. He was the ‘umbilical cord’ which joined them to Jesus, and the source of power to obey Jesus as their Master and Lord.

The world around them was alienated from Christ and full of wickedness, trying to lure them back, through deception, into their old lives of rebellion against God. There was also an enemy within, their old nature, against whom they had to contend to remain faithful to Jesus in spite of its pull. And, on top of that, the devil was in league with their old nature, always there to dangle the pleasure of sin before them and never to remind them of the small print!

Paul’s answer to these powerful enemies who were always there to put stumbling blocks in their way, to trip them up or to lure them off course, was to continue as they had begun. How had they begun their new lives in Christ? By faith in Him! They trusted His word that He had forgiven their sin, and reconnected them with Him as their life source. They were no longer out of touch with God and left to navigate their own way through life.

Their way had not worked. Their own rules had landed them in fear, guilt and shame but in Christ they had been set free. They were a new creation, on a new path back to the Father, full of joy, and really living instead of existing. Now, said Paul, remain in Him, rooted, built up and strengthened in the faith.

This is where so many new believers in Christ, and even many who have been on the way for years, go wrong. Having been joined to Jesus by faith, they try to carry on on their own. They do what they think Jesus wants them to do or they ‘work’ for the Lord in order to ‘pay Him back’ for His grace, instead of simply ‘remaining’ in Him.

Before Jesus left His disciples to go to the cross, He spent His final hours teaching them about the Holy Spirit. He wanted them to know, above everything else, that the Holy Spirit whom the Father would send after His passion and resurrection, would be His personal representative. He would live within them and would be the link between Him and them, providing everything they needed to live their new lives.

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ (John 15: 5).

Paul’s work was to partner with the Holy Spirit in prayer and instruction so that his beloved fellow-believers would learn to rest in Jesus. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Paul rested, but he also worked at resting in God as He worked in the lives of others in response to his teaching and his prayers. This is the paradox of Christian ministry – labouring to rest.

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:28-29

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God, for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience (Heb. 4: 9-11).

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Luella Campbell

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