At Gateway Austin, in the last few months we have accepted the challenge of a new life, simplified, and imagined heaven. In our next series at Gateway South and Gateway Central, we are focusing on what really matters to live a life with purpose and intentionality.
To apply the message to your life, work through the Next Steps for this message with your roommates, family, running partners, or life group.
Kenny Green shared at Gateway Central, and I shared at Gateway South.
Here is the message I shared at Gateway South:
Here are the message notes:
Even with the Hubble telescope and all of the incredible technologies we have today, there are still limits to what we can know for sure about what is out there beyond what we refer to as the “known universe.”
The space beyond what we know is just darkness and there’s silence .
The same is true of our lives as human beings . There are things that we know and that we understand, but just outside of that realm there is a different space in our lives isn’t there?
- a space that feels very dark sometimes
- a space where we feel very alone
- a space where the silence can be deafening
- a space where things just don’t make sense sometimes
- a space where we have so many doubts and unanswered questions
Our series is about discovering God in the midst of these dark spaces and becoming a community that helps others do the same – to become a community that brings hope and healing to the city.
In the first century there was small community of people that was meeting in a town called Colossae. Their community probably wasn’t so much different from ours. – urban, pluralistic, spiritual, diverse backgrounds, etc..
Paul wanted to inspire them and to equip them to keep moving forward in their spiritual journey together and to keep progressing toward being the people that God had created them to be.
Paul begins with what matters most. He wants them to know that something has happened: God has done something that has changed the course of human history and given us an all access pass to God and His Kingdom.
Jesus has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Most of us have no problem acknowledging the domain of darkness in our world. Often we can identify darkness in everyone else, but we don’t as readily admit the darkness in ourselves.
That’s exactly what the darkness wants us to do – remain stuck in the dark.
Maybe you heard the interview of Susan Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters. She said something so insightful and so tragic:
“I taught him how to protect himself from a host of dangers: lightning, snake bites, head injuries, skin cancer, smoking, drinking, sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction, reckless driving, even carbon monoxide poisoning. It never occurred to me that the gravest danger — to him and, as it turned out, to so many others — might come from within….”
Darkness is real. Darkness desires to isolate and destroy. It may start out small and harmless enough, but darkness desires more and more influence and eventually more and more control of our thoughts and even our actions.
Jesus gives us hope – a life free from the darkness – a life of forgiveness and redemption!
Let’s pause for a moment to be honest for a minute. Do you find yourself stuck in the dark? Do you find yourself drifting back into the darkness even though you’ve been freed from it?
What do the domains of darkness look like in your life?
Do you know what I’m talking about? Those areas in your life that just seem to steal from you?
Even after following Jesus, we can drift back into darkness. The key is to ask Jesus to bring you back into the light rather than stay in the darkness. When we refuse to do so, one bad decision can turn into a bad week or a bad month or a bad year.
A wise counselor helped me understand my priorities. He asked me to list my priorities to which I said: God, Family, and Work. He said: “No, your priority is your family, your work – your ministry and God leads you in all of these categories.” In other words, he was pointing out how I had compartmentalized my life. I put God in a category rather than allowing Him to truly lead me in every area of my life.
What are the domains of darkness in your life?
It’s so important that we’re identifying these rather than living in denial that these areas exist. These are the very areas that we need to invite Jesus to rescue us from.
If you have chosen to follow Jesus, then you’ve been transferred! His forgiveness is real!
So why don’t we believe that? Why do we creep back into the darkness?
Why do we live as if no one has rescued us from our domains of darkness?
For some of us, it’s because we’ve become comfortable in the dark. We prefer the dark.
This is so critical to understand: God has revealed Himself to us. He has revealed Himself to us through Jesus, and His Spirit is at work drawing each of us to Himself and guiding us to become who He wants us to be.
Look at how the Scriptures describe Jesus:
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
– Hebrews 1:3
Way out there at the end of the know universe, beyond what our greatest technology can see: Jesus holds the entire universe in His hand and says “I got this! Now, do you think you can trust me with your life?”
Timothy Keller shares how a woman sharing about this passage in Hebrews 1:3 challenged him and the rest of the group in a way that was life-changing. She said:
If the distance between the earth and the sun which is 92 million miles was reduced to the thickness of a sheet of paper then the distance between the earth and the nearest star would be a stake of paper 70 feet high.
The diameter of the galaxy would be a stack of paper 310 miles high.
Yet the galaxy is nothing but a speck of dust in a whole universe and the Bible says that Jesus Christ holds the universe together with his word.
Then she asked this question. “Is this the kind of person that you ask into your life to be your personal assistant?”
Who is Jesus to you?
- Jesus does not come to give good advice. He is Life!
- Jesus is not a life coach. He is Life!
- Jesus is not a founder of a religion. He is the God of Love in human form!
I have known too many people who walked away from Jesus saying: “Christianity didn’t help me. I didn’t get what I wanted from it.”
They completely misunderstand! They tried religion rather than a genuine and fully-surrendered relationship!
- Some of us grew up going to a church service on Sunday, that does not save us.
- Some of us grew up going to a church building on Sunday or even more than just one day a week, that does not rescue us.
- Some of us have rejected Jesus as a result of political Christians and cultural Christians.
Guilt and obligation and religion is not why we come together. We come together with others to celebrate that Jesus conquered death and transfers us from the domain of darkness!
We come together out of gratitude for what God has done for us and so that we may serve others together because of Jesus and for Jesus!
We come together to discover more about who God is and who we are and it is in the context of community we can!
Listen to how Colossians 1 describes Jesus:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
– Colossians 1:15-16
“The firstborn” could be translated “the preeminent one,” “the sovereign,” or “the originator of all creation.”
“All things” includes you me. You were created by Him and for Him. You were created on purpose and you were created for a purpose.
“All things hold together in Him” means you can trust Him. You matter to Jesus, and the details of your life matter to Him.
He wants you to trust your entire life to Him because you’re His beloved child, and He wants to be with you through everything that you go through in your life.
Jesus wants to meet us in these dark spaces and lead us out and into light where we can see clearly what is beautiful and what is true and where the shadows of lies and deceit and confusion are driven away by the light.
Just beyond where science doesn’t know, Jesus is there.
Just beyond where you don’t understand, Jesus is there.
Paul goes on to say this in his letter:
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. – Colossians 1:21-22
Earlier in the letter we heard about “who Jesus is” and here Paul is writing about “what Jesus has done for us.”
There is a spiritual condition that people are in and true for everyone.
- alienation : separated from God by sin and brokenness.
- hostility : separation results in hostility towards God
- evil : behavior that’s contrary to the way God intended us to live
That’s the bad news, but the good news is that God doesn’t want any of that for us!
He’s reconciled all of humanity back to Himself through the death of His Son. Because of the work Jesus did on the cross, when we say “yes” to Him, He now presents us before God as the following:
- holy : set apart for God and for His service
- without blemish : blameless
- free from accusation : above any condemnation…not guilty
That is one of the greatest promises in all of scripture . . .but there’s something else I want us to see about this passage on our first day together here in this space . . .
At the cross . . . Jesus says, “All Are Welcome Here!”
- no matter how far away from God you are
- no matter how hostile or angry you are towards Him
- no matter what you’ve done
Gateway is a community for the alienated, hostile, and those doing evil AND for the holy, blameless, and those who are free from accusation.
So what is your next step?
Allow Jesus to become your Messiah – your Deliverer – your Leader. Not your personal assistant, not your co-pilot – your Lord.
Maybe this would be the first time you’ve decided to ask for forgiveness and allow Him to transfer you to the light and out of darkness.
Maybe you’ve been transferred. He’s already rescued you, but you have slipped back into darkness.
In which area(s) of your life do you need to trust Him right now?