Let Us Bring Glory to God (Psalm 115:1, Colossians 3:1-17) Pastor Josh VanLeeuwen
In the final seconds of the game, the quarterback puts on a burst of speed and rockets into the end zone for the winning touchdown. Elated, he spikes the ball and does his signature celebratory dance, and the crowd goes wild. He’s their hero, at least in this moment. As the rest of the team piles onto the field, perhaps fans recall that the quarterback didn’t win the game all by himself. It was a team effort, right? Sometimes we forget that a winning team isn’t just the players: it’s also the coaching staff, who mentored and trained the athletes, helping them to give their best effort; the players’ families, who supported their kids as they grew up, sometimes sacrificing their own needs to give their sons opportunities to learn and play; the players’ schools and their teachers and staff, who encouraged them and got them started in the sport; the fans, who stood by their team, even when they weren’t winning, because they believed that eventually everything would come together for a winning game and a winning season.
But what about the One who created that athlete’s body? The One who breathed life into his lungs? The One who instilled this young man with dedication and discipline and purpose? How often do we remember to praise the One without whom there would be no quarterback? No fans? No game? Sometimes we glorify the athlete and forget all about God, to whom all the glory really belongs. Of course, sometimes the player who scores that winning touchdown indicates with a forefinger pointing skyward that he’s aware of his Creator’s role in his achievement, and he offers credit to God. How often do we acknowledge our Maker in our own achievements? How often do we give God the credit and glory for what we’ve accomplished? “Not to us,” the psalmist wrote, “O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”
Colosse was once a leading city in Asia Minor, but by Paul’s time it had become greatly diminished in significance. Thanks to a man named Epaphras, who had been converted to the faith during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, there was a church in Colosse. Unfortunately, the young church had been a target for heretical attack, and Epaphras journeyed to Rome to seek guidance from Paul, who then wrote this letter to the Colossians. In it he addressed a number of heresies, reminding the people that Jesus is Lord and head of the church and warning them against false teachers and other issues. He advised them to focus on “things above, not on earthly things.” He told them that, yes, they used to defer to their earthly habits and desires, but now, because they had been raised with Christ, they needed to rid themselves of things like anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. Now, as the holy and dearly loved children of God, they should clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. They should forgive one another, as Christ forgave them. And above all, they should love one another in unity and peace.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of unity and peace in our world today. Even in the church there is conflict and division. What would Paul advise us to do? No doubt he would remind us that we are the body of Christ, tasked with the mission of bringing the good news of salvation to the world. We are to be a light to those living in darkness. An example of wholeness to a very broken world. We should set aside our differences to come together in unity for the mission Jesus appointed us to do. And remember, he would say: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Not to us, O Lord, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness!