1.One power struggle within a church is one too many! This may be one reason why Paul reinforced the preeminence of Christ in verse18. How would you compare and contrast Christ’s role within the church with the roles that church leaders are to fill? How well do your church’s leaders recognize what their roles should be? How can you support them?
This is an issue that needs to tug persistently at the hearts of those who have leadership responsibilities in the local church. Christ’s role is unique in that He alone provides the means by which individuals can come to know God. No church leader can bring an individual into God’s presence directly without Christ’s intervention. That is why Christians are called upon to be servant-leaders of the church rather than Chief Executive Officers of God’s corporation.
2.Colossians 1:20 identifies the cross as the means through which peace entered the world. How do you explain this to an unbeliever? What roadblocks might you expect?
In 1 Corinthians 1:23 Paul identifies the crucifixion as a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks. That skepticism and confusion still exists. As He has done on other occasions, God used a very unusual procedure to accomplish His purposes.
Possible roadblocks are almost too numerous to mention. Many will not see the relevance of much of anything that happened 2,000 years ago. Whatever the resistance, we need to help the non-Christian to see that it was only the shedding of Christ’s blood that allows us to come back into a proper relationship with God. This is so because Jesus’ death paid the penalty for sin that God had decreed. No matter what illustrations or analogies we use in our discussion, this core idea must be present.
3. In our new relationship with Christ, we are to be “holy and un-blamable and un-reprovable. “What are some difficulties that these standards have caused for you? How did you (or how will you) overcome these problems?
This new walk with Christ is certain to be misunderstood by friends and those who do not understand the calling we have received. Folks are going to be watching to see how quickly we will fall from the standards we have accepted. They will be quick to note what they see as hypocrisy. They may resent our holy choices or exclude as from their activities. They may accuse us of being “holier than thou.”
We may also kick ourselves when we stray from doing what we know is right. However, we should notice that the passage refers to being blameless in God’s sight. As much as we want to create a good witness, it is God’s approval that is most important.
4.Verse 23 begins with a conditional “if-statement.” What things are most likely to cause you to stray from the faith? How do you guard against these?
This is a very personal question. What sways one person may not be a factor at all in the life of another. Some of the differences may lie in our personal heritage or the environment in which we currently live or work. The challenge is the same to all: we must be faithful in our calling be-cause it is our eternal hope!
5.How do you embrace as your own Paul’s calling as a “minister” to preach “to every creature which is under heaven”? Or do you see this calling to be relegated to a select few rather than being a general call to all Christians? Explain.
There is no doubt that Jesus called Paul to a unique apostolic ministry. Some things that Jesus required Paul to do were for Paul and Paul alone. Yet Jesus issues general calls to all Christians today through the pages of Scripture (Matthew2819, 20). There undoubtedly are specific calls that God lays on the hearts of some Christians to serve in unique ministry roles. God’s call for a fellow Christian to serve as a long-term missionary in a far-off land is not necessarily God’s call for you to do the same. (God may be calling you to support that missionary financially.) We can discern God’s call to us in a general way through His Word. Discerning a specific call to a particular ministry takes much prayer and an awareness of open and closed doors of opportunity.