In Jesus

I realized today that I do a lot of "Biblical" stuff in the name of Christian ministry, for the sake of truth, or for righteousness sake, but I don't necessarrily always do things In Christ.

Does that make sense to you?  Do you ever recognize that happening in your own life?  

I can get caught up in "standing for truth" sometimes, or doing "holistic" ministry (meaning the hard parts of biblical instruction, not just the easy and joyful parts).  At such times, as I became aware today, I am not always operating "in Christ."

In reading Colossians today, the following passage really struck me.

Colossians 2

 1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

I try to practice good exegesis, but today, it hit me, that all the wisdom in the world properly applied isn't actually properly applied if it is not in Christ.  We can do all sorts of confrontation, correction, encouragement and teaching in our own strength, in our own raw emotions, and with our own personality guiding our actions and words, even if we're quoting God's Word.  People can hear the truth and be convicted by it, but if it's not "in Christ", I have done it wrong.  

So, what does it mean to do it "in Christ"?

Well, I think the immediate text gives us a standard, and then other Scripture fills in the gaps.  But for starters, the immediate text says:
"My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love"
Have you ever done ministry or tried to follow some Biblical instruction only to have the situation go horribly wrong?  It could be because of many things, but something for consideration is that it was because, deep down, your intentions were not truly to see the other person or people encouraged in their heart and united in love.  Maybe, like me sometimes, you just want to let them have it, be convicted, and realize how messed up they are or have been.  Is it worth considering?
"so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding"
I have noticed many times in other peoples approach to me, that they simply want me to change or do something in a certain way, but they don't explain the wisdom or necessity behind the requirement.  I think I have been guilty of that as well.  
"in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ"
This is the crux of it isn't it.  We should want, more than anything else, for people to know Jesus.  It doesn't matter how bad I know I am, how foolish I know I have been, how right I know to act.  If I don't know Jesus, ministry has done nothing for me.

Colossians gives me this further guidance a little further on.  It tells me how to be in a place where I can minister in Christ.

Colossians 3

 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And 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.

This has been a good reflection for me.  I pray you take the time to reflect on your ministry and Image Bearing life.

With you for His glory