Good morning and welcome to OCBC. Jean just got back. Lot’s of babies being born lately. Labor and strive in the pregnancy. Labor and strive in the labor. Labor and strive in the upbringing. What are we as a church laboring and striving for? What are we trying to “give birth” to or to accomplish?
In Colossians 1:24-29, we see Paul’s purpose for laboring and striving. Pual describes himself as a minister, who through many sufferings and afflictions labour and strive for one goal. This then you could is the goal that we the church all labour and strive for. Notice that the goal is not simply evangelism – not simply missions – not simply that we do good work or follow a moral law. But the goal is (verse 28) to present every member mature in Christ. The goal is maturity in Christ. That every one reaches their full potential as a child of God – fullness of faith. Fullness of life. Fullness of assurance. Fullness of obedience. Second it is that we together grow to grasp the great mystery of God – that Christ is both in and among us us. As the Spirit of Christ takes residence in our hearts, Jesus in a very real way is the center of our worship together, the center of our life – he is with us. Maturity is not about following a set of rules, its about having your heart set on and enlarged by Jesus. Paul says I labor and strive for this.
Paul has some tools and these are the same tools that we use in the church. First is proclamation. Him we proclaim (1:28). Every week we need to hear the word of God proclaimed – not moralistic sermons, but the life and power of Jesus proclaimed before us. What God has done for you in Christ. Secondly, Teaching. We are taught from God word the Christian life – how to live and please God. We need this instruction because our minds and the way we perceive reality has been corrupted by sin so that we call right wrong and wrong right. Thirdly, and this is the hardest at church, we at times need warning, admonition. Not condemnation, but correction. An appeal to us to live lives of conformity to the gospel – for even if our mind is renewed, at time our will is weak, or our flesh is strong.
This is the Labour of us all. This is what we do as a church. Not only our leaders, but every one of us work hard to present every member mature – Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, older men or women, parents.
We all teach and admonish one another in Christ. Not to know about Christ, or even to obey Christ, but to know Christ, his power and his presence. Ask yourself – in my ministry, in my parenting – am I leading people into a greater relationship with Christ? Am I labouring toward their maturity in Christ.
- That our children and youth will mature and become zealous for the Lord – not waiting until university or adulthood to live out their faith, but seizing the opportunities they have now.
- That the university fellowship will rebound from a difficult transition this fall and once again be a vibrant place of fellowship and outreach. Many are graduating in the next year and we pray that they will be able to find their path in life.
- That our young professionals will continue maturing in their faith and becoming more settled in their families, careers and in the church. I hope that this will be the year that someone from this generation will feel led to serve on the church board.
- That the older members of our congregation find meaningful ways of caring for one another, perhaps through the establishment of an adult fellowship group.
- That we as an English Congregation might be able to find our own identity in outreach.
- That we might work together with the Chinese Congregation to “fill the gap” in our church – finding out how to best minister to the young students from Mainland China that presently slip through the cracks of both our congregations.