By most accounts, the apostle Paul seemed to be a pretty passionate guy. He was willing to endure lashings, stonings, and verbal abuse for the sake of the gospel. He traveled the Mediterranean world planting churches. He wasn't afraid to go the extra mile. But there is only one thing he himself said he "strenuously contends" for. What is that one thing?
"He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me" (Col. 1:28-29).
Presenting everyone fully mature in Christ - this is what Paul strenuously contends for.
There are a few implications of this for us:
1) "Getting in" is awesome! But it's not the end of it. Moving forward toward Christian maturity isn't optional. We were saved in order to become mature.
2) If Paul is strenuously contending to help other people become mature, should I be equally strenuous in contending for my own spiritual maturity? If so, what does strenuously contending for my own maturity look like?
3) The proclamation of Christ through admonishment and teaching is the means of developing Christian maturity. Maturity is developed through "Christocentricness". Apart from Christ, there is no maturity. But maturity also begins cerebrally. The terms 'admonishing' and 'teaching' require words, messages, and content that need to be understood in the mind. (Incidentally, this is why anti-intellectualism is such a riptide undermining Christianity.)
This passage from Colossians is striking. For all of Paul's zeal to see lost people come to saving faith, Paul strenuously contended to present every Christian fully mature in Christ. May it be so of us!
They are everywhere.
Life without them would be...well...confusing.
Think about how pervasive language is. Just today, I used language in the preparation of a sermon. I used it to correspond with dozens of individuals. I used language to give an instruction to a fellow staff person in our church.
Not only is language pervasive, it's powerful. It accomplishes things. A word of encouragement you gave someone today will be uplifting to them and put wind in their sails. A word of criticism, on the other hand, will drain their strength and cause them to question themselves.
Language is pervasive and it's powerful. Why? I believe the Bible answers that question in its first chapter.
How could have God created the cosmos? Probably any way he saw fit. He chose to use language to create the universe. The moment God chose to speak the galaxies and lifeforms into existence, he gave to words an inherent power and dignity that is meant to be stewarded wisely. We are meant to value them. Cherish them. Enjoy them. Use them for God-honoring means and ends.
So what did you do with God's gift of language today? What will you do with God's gift of language tomorrow?