Live Different: Done with Sin

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)

Several years ago, Apple ran an ad campaign for their line of computers called “Think Different.” Especially back then, they wanted people to consider the possibility that their “Windows” on the world wasn’t the only way to see things.

runGod’s Word tells Christians to “think different,” as well. And having our minds renewed is a big part of what it means to become like Jesus. But we’re not meant to stop at thinking different. God calls us to live different from the world in very specific ways.

Peter will help us to understand what that means this week, but it does start with taking on a Christ-like attitude toward sin. In short, as people who are willing to die for Christ, why would we want to waste our lives living for sin? Living different starts with not letting our physical appetites make the decisions for us.

Living different means living to say yes to God.

Think: Is your goal in your natural self to stand out from the crowd or to fit in? Is your goal as a Christ-follower to do either of those things? According to today’s passage, what should be your goal as a Christ-follower?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to waste your life living for sin but to live for the will of God, instead.

Do: Today’s verse starts with a “therefore.” Read 1 Peter 3:8-22 to see what it’s “there for.”

What to Be: Be a Finisher

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’ ” (Colossians 4:17)

Our final role-model from Paul’s buddy list this week isn’t actually one of the guys working with Paul in Rome. He’s probably Philemon’s son back in Colosse, where this letter is headed. He was maybe taking care of some of Epaphras’s ministry duties back there while E. was with Paul.

whatto_350Paul tells Archippus to “see to it” (or “look out”) that he finish the “work” (or “ministry”) God gave him to do. Either Arcippus was dropping the ball or Paul knew that things were about to get tough for him. He urged everyone to remind Archippus to keep going and finish strong. Talk about accountability!

Has God called you to do any ministry work that you’ve left hanging – or that you’re thinking about giving up on? Maybe it has to do with helping with something at church or telling a friend about Jesus or even just making it your job to encourage other Christians in the jobs they’re doing for Christ.

Don’t give up. Be the kind of Chirst-follower who finishes what you start. Hang tough.

Think: What ministry work have you “received in the Lord”? Are you still working at it? If you can’t think of any ministry you’re supposed to be doing, what are some ways you could start serving Christ, especially in your church?

Pray: Ask God to help you to finish what you start for him.

Do: Make a plan for some specific ways you can “keep going” in serving God this week. If you don’t have a regular way that you serve in your church, see if you find a way to help.

What to Be: Don’t Be a Demas

“Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.” (Colossians 4:14)

The next role-model we meet from Paul’s entourage turns out to be a negative one. Here he’s included in the posse as one of the guys supporting Paul in prison and sending greetings to the Colossians. But listen to this later letter Paul sent to Timothy:

whatto_350“Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me.” (2 Timothy 4:9-10)

Demas started out on the path of Christ then got distracted by the world and fell in love with it. What is the world? According to John, it includes living for pleasure, possessions, and status. (See 1 John 2:16.)

God gladly gives us some of those things to enjoy, but he demands that we save our love for him. You cannot love the world and live for Christ at the same time.

Think: Could you ever see yourself falling in love with what the world offers – pleasure, possessions, and status? What can you do to protect your heart from becoming unfaithful to God?

Pray: Ask God to help you to love him with your whole life and not to be distracted from serving him by loving the world.

Do: Read (and think about memorizing) 1 John 1:15-17, which describes our choice between loving God and loving the world.

What to Be: Be an Epaphras

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12-13)

Paul has another role-model for you.

whatto_350Epaphras was a Colossian guy with a rep as a muscular pray-er. He approached prayer as battle, and he prayed to win. He “wrestled” in prayer for people. I take that to mean that he saw prayer as so powerful – so critical to changing things for the better – that he was ready to throw down in spiritual warfare or even just against his own attention span.

How hard do we work at praying for others? Do we think of praying as lesser work, as less effective than actually “doing something” like feeding the hungry, telling the gospel, or teaching Sunday School? Maybe we don’t work as hard at prayer because we’re not as convinced that it matters.

Epaphras knew it did, and he fought to do it effectively.

Think: What could you change in your life this week to make more time to do some prayer wrestling? What would you have to wrestle against, do you think, to pray more effectively for others?

Pray: Ask God to give you the strength, wisdom, and courage to wrestle in prayer for others.

Do: Think of three people in your life who need prayer and make a commitment with yourself to spend time praying for them this week.

What to Be: Be a Mark

“My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)” (Colossians 4:10)

It takes commitment, preparation and, well, beginning to become like the best of the Jesus-followers.

whatto_350Today’s role-model (from Paul’s entourage of ministry teammates listed in Colossians 4) is a guy called Mark, tagged forever as “Barnabas’s cousin.” In fact, Mark is the guy who contributed to splitting up the dynamic missionary duo of Paul and Barnabas.

Mark went AWOL after joining them on a missionary journey, leaving the pair in the lurch. When it came time for the next trip, Paul wouldn’t take him. Barnabas wouldn’t leave him. So the friends went two different directions.

Here, though, we see that later on Mark has been there for Paul in prison – and Paul may even be sending Mark on a mission to the Colossians. He earned his way back on the team by starting again and being faithful to following Christ. Mark shows us that one big failure doesn’t have to be the end our service to the Lord; we can start again.

We must start again.

Think: Have you avoided serving Christ on a deeper level because you’ve failed in some obvious or painful way? Do you feel disqualified to use your life up for Jesus? What would keep you from starting again to humbly serve God in a new way?

Pray: If you’ve sidelined yourself from service to Christ because of a big failure in your life, ask God to give you the courage to start serving again. If you haven’t been sidelined, think of someone who has and pray for that person today.

Do: Read about the breakup of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41 and then check out what else Paul says about Mark later on in 2 Timothy 4:11.

What to Be: Be an Aristarchus

“My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings.” (Colossians 4:10)

What kind of Christ-follower will you be? We’re mining Paul’s ministry buddies mentioned in Colossians 4 for ideas.

whatto_350Of all those buddies, Aristrarchus is the only one Paul calls a “fellow prisoner.” Since Paul likely wrote these words as a prisoner in Rome for preaching about Jesus, it makes sense that Aristarchus might have been under arrest for the same thing.

That would mean that even though he wasn’t the apostle, the head guy, he was still willing to lose his freedom to tell others about Christ. It sounds like he took Jesus’ words seriously: “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mark 10:38-39)

Jesus is looking for followers willing to lose it all for his sake, willing to sacrifice everything to walk the path he’s called them to. Are you an Aristarchus?

Think: Have you ever considered what you might be willing to give up to live for Jesus? Do you think you would be more or less likely to tell others about his plan for salvation if it meant risking your life?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be willing to risk everything to follow the path he’s called you to walk.

Do: Want to know more about persecution in the early church? Read this interesting article from Probe Ministries.

What to Be: Be an Onesimus

“He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.” (Colossians 4:9)

The question of the week is what kind of Christ-follower we’re going to be. And we’re looking for inspiration from Paul’s entourage in Colossians 4.

whatto_350Our next role model is a thieving runaway slave – but that’s not the role model part. Onesimus had been a slave in Colosse in the home of his wealthy master Philemon, a Christian. Apparently, Onesimus robbed Philemon and ran away to Rome, where he somehow met Paul, became a Christian, and became very dear to Paul.

Here’s the role model part: Onesimus went back to make things right with Philemon (with a very high letter of recommendation from Paul). Even though most of us would agree that slavery is an evil institution, Onesimus refused to justify his sin.

Think: Have you done anything sinful that needs to be owned up to and made right? Is that thing standing in the way somehow of your service to Christ? What do you need to do this week to confess and repent of that so you can move on?

Pray: Ask God to help you to take responsibility for any sin you have committed against another person. Ask him for the opportunity, courage, and humility to make it right.

Do: Read Paul’s letter of recommendation for Onesimus in the tiny little book of Philemon. Notice how Paul talks about the then culturally accepted practice of slavery within the larger context of Christianity.