Keep Choosing Christ 6th Pentecost
Colossians 1:15-28 Luke 10:38-42
One day, a woman was having her hair done at a salon, and the conversation turned to God. The hairdresser voiced her belief that there must not be a God, because there was so much tragedy in the world—people being ill, children being abused, violence happening everywhere—you get the idea. “There must not be a God because God wouldn’t allow these things to happen.” The woman getting her hair done didn’t agree with this view, but she just didn’t know how to respond.
She left the salon and, as she walked down the street, she saw a woman who was dirty and disheveled, her hair oily and limp. Now she knew what to say to the stylist, and returned to the salon. “I have proof that there aren’t any hair stylists!”
“What are you talking about?! I’m a hair stylist! I wash and cut and set and perm hair all the time!”
“Well, I just saw a woman on the street whose hair was dirty and unkempt!”
The stylist replied, “Well, she needs to come to me!”
Our scriptures today are about the God who is always waiting for us, always choosing us, always saying, “Come to me,” but NEVER forcing a relationship with us! God gives US the choice to seek God or not, to listen or not, to obey or not. I want to focus today on: 1. The REASON to keep choosing Christ and 2. A WAY to keep choosing Christ. So I invite you to explore these texts with me.
Choices made FOR you
It’s a fact of life that many choices are made FOR you, on your behalf. Some of these come from the circumstances of your birth, while others are the laws of the state, and still others things beyond our control.
There are choices your parents made for you when you were young. Many of you were baptized as infants—without your consent! Your parents made promises to raise you in a Christian home, and your church promised to nurture and love you into the Kingdom.
In our faith’s ancient tradition, parents chose circumcision for their boys, to be a sign that they were part of the family—and those boys would (hopefully) one day confirm that decision by going through Bar Mitzvah, becoming “A son of the commandment,” or “a son of righteousness.”
Anyone baptized as a child or infant will have an opportunity to confirm their baptism when they get to the age of accountability. The first choice was made by our parents, and the second choice is ours.
Then, as part of the church, you and I are encouraged to Keep Choosing Christ.
Why Choose Christ?
Our passage from Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae says that Jesus is the perfect manifestation of God. In other words, to see what God is like, we only need to look at Jesus. In him we see the personal characteristics of God.
Jesus shows us not only what God is; he also shows us what you and I were meant to be! In Jesus, we see humanity as God designed it! Again, he shows us what we were meant to be.
He goes on to write, “In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile us to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross.”
So, why do we need this? It says that we were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds. (Enemies of God.) But now He has reconciled us in order to present us holy and blameless and irreproachable before God. (Amazing!) And he adds a proviso: Provided that we continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel.
Paul is describing Jesus as our ADVOCATE, one who is ready to “speak up on our behalf.” He is presenting us as clean and pure because of his reconciling work on the cross! And Paul urges us to Keep Choosing Christ, to be steadfast in the faith.
A WAY to Choose Christ
Our Gospel reading for today shows us Jesus in a familiar place—the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the scene for many revealing events in the Gospels. This is where Lazarus was later raised from the dead. It was where Mary re-enacted the anointing of Jesus’ feet, just as she had once done in the city of Nain when she first decided to choose Christ. But today’s text is the first visit of Jesus to this household, and it illustrates two very different ways of relating to him.
There is “the Mary way.” Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to what he was teaching.
And there is “the Martha way.” Martha was busying around, preparing a meal, making her guests welcome. But the text says she was “distracted by her many tasks.”
Now, when Martha came to Jesus to complain that Mary was not helping her with her tasks, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Maybe a loaf of bread and some cool, clear water would have been enough of a meal. Maybe Martha was too concerned to provide a fancy meal, going to unnecessary lengths and bother. But Jesus didn’t say that what Martha was doing was bad—he just said that Mary’s choice was better. It puts into perspective our attitude about getting busy in our service of Christ compared with just being with Christ, listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s actually tempting to get involved with busywork for Christ. It gives us a sense that something is getting done. But we are also called to set aside time for prayer, for Scripture, to make sure we are not just rushing off to do what we think needs doing. Some people like to picture Jesus sitting across from them in an empty chair, and they tell him what’s on their heart, and they listen for what he might say. (Different things work for different people.)
The point is: doing things for Jesus is good, and spending time with Jesus is even better.
I’ll conclude this morning by going back to the Apostle Paul. He writes this letter to the church in Colossae while he is in prison, and he tells them that he rejoices in his sufferings! He holds himself up as one who has Kept Choosing Christ, and makes it clear that the joy of his life is that he is helping them to mature in Christ.
He says pretty much the same thing to the church in Ephesus: “Building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” I love his use of the word “maturity.” Maturing is a process, and each of us is in the process of growing into the full stature of Christ. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back, and even sometimes a LARGE step back—but Christ keeps choosing us.
KEEP CHOOSING CHRIST!