Reality of Our Reputations | Kylen Perry

Kylen Perry // Apr 16, 2024

What are you known for? This week we kicked off our new series "Above All," and Kylen Perry takes us through Colossians 1 to show us what it means to have a genuine faith that leaves a lasting impression.

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Porch, how are we doing tonight? Let me hear it from you. I'm so glad you are here. I hope you know we never take for granted an evening where we get to gather together, not only here in the city of Dallas but all across the nation at our Porch.Live locations. Thanks for trusting us with your time, joining us here tonight. Special shout-out to Porch.Live Boise and Porch.Live Scottsdale. Love you guys. Thanks for being a part of what God is doing here as well as there as well as all of our other Porch.Live locations.

Hey, just a few years ago, I decided to take up a new pastime. I decided to take up the game of golf. Show of hands. Has anybody taken up the game of golf as of recent? It's sweeping the nation. I don't really understand why. A few years ago, it was COVID, so I knew I needed to find some way to pass the time in my own personal isolation. I thought this would be a great use of it, so I set off to learn what is a really difficult sport.

If you've never played it, what you need to know is this is anything but an easy game. We've all played mini golf. It's hard. That's a microcosm of how much more difficult the game of golf actually is, yet I thought, "Sure. You know what? I'm willing to take this challenge on. I'll forge my own path to greater golf glory, even if it means I have to do so by myself."

So I set out to do it. I decided I was going to teach myself, because here's the thing. The game is extremely difficult. What you need to know is it requires you to refine a very specific skill set over the course of a really long time. That's the point. You should do so with the help of instruction, but because it was COVID and everybody was social distancing, there was no instruction for me to be able to find. I couldn't do it, so I had to do it all by myself.

So, how did I do it? How did I make my way through the game of golf? I did it like this. I would go and play. I would identify what was broken in my game, which was a lot. Then I would come back home and type into YouTube whatever my issue was. I would listen to a variety of online coaches tell me their proposed solution, and then I would get back out there and try it again, and I would rinse and repeat the process over and over and over again.

What do you think happened to my game? It didn't get any better, but I got a lot busier, I'll tell you. I had plenty of different proposals to get out there and try, many different options that had been offered to me that I should go out and should try to apply to improve my game, but I was not improving. I was only getting worse. So my in-laws intervened. They decided, after having watched me struggle for a couple of years' time, that at last it made sense for me to go and see a golf instructor, a certified golf coach.

So they bought me, as a gift, a 30-minute private lesson, which, I'll be honest, I received… It was extremely kind of them, but it felt like too little too late. I mean, it's a 30-minute lesson. By this point, I have consumed hundreds of hours of videos, listened to dozens of online coaches, and spent plenty of money playing this game. What is a 30-minute lesson and your special certified golf instructor going to tell me that I don't already know? But, hey, what did I have to lose? I wasn't getting any better. So I decided to take the lesson.

I made my way out to the course. I met the instructor. I hit a couple of balls for the guy. Immediately, he stops the practice. He pulls me over to the side. He looks right into my eyes, and he goes, "There are a couple of things you need to know about this game. First, it's much easier than people think, and second, you are making it much harder than it needs to be. Forget everything you've learned and listen to my voice alone." So I did.

I continued through the practice. He showed me a variety of different things, and by way of applying myself, not to all of these different competing voices, but merely listening to the one voice that actually knew what it looked like to grow, do you know what happened to my game? It did. It got better. It's not great, but it did get better.

Why do I tell you that? Because, as we journey through life and mature along the way, there are so many competing voices telling us how we should do it, how we should progress as a human being, how we should advance as individuals; so many so-called experts all propositioning us to follow their philosophy, to trust their teaching, to endorse their ideology.

They're trying to get us to follow them because they know the way for us to grow. They know what it looks like for us to get better. They know what it looks like for us to achieve all of our hopes and dreams here in this life, yet, as we listen to all of these different voices and put into practice all of these different proposals, what happens? Life doesn't get better; it just gets busier. That's what happens.

Why? Why is that the case? Because many may promise a fuller experience in this life, but only one whose name is Jesus Christ can actually deliver on that promise. Many different voices may propose to you, "Hey, this is the way to fuller life. This is the way to grow here in your time on earth," but only one can actually deliver on that promise. That's what the book of Colossians is all about.

Last week, we introduced that over the course of the next several weeks we are going to be journeying through the book of Colossians together. We're going to take it from the very beginning to the very end. We're going to go line by line, page by page, and we're going to journey and understand what the apostle Paul, who authored this letter, is writing about. What is his point and purpose in penning this little letter to this group of believers in a city known as Colossae?

Let's set it up with some context. What you need to know is he was writing to a group of young believers in a city called Colossae. Colossae wasn't an especially large city at the time Paul was writing to it, but it was especially diverse. It was diverse ethnically. There were Phrygians as well as Greeks and some Jews living there within the city, and it was also diverse philosophically, which actually raises the issue Paul is going to address, which I'll unpack for you in a minute.

What you see is that he's writing to a group of young Christians, young believers who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, who have made the ultimate decision to go all in with God, yet now they're appropriately at a place that many of you may find yourself sitting in. "What's next? How do I get better? What does it look like for me to advance as an individual, to progress through this life, for me to achieve all the fullness God is offering me while I'm here on this earth? How do I do it? What steps do I take from here?"

This is the question these believers are asking and you may be asking yourself, and to these believers, this backdrop of Colossae, a city diverse in philosophy and ideology and riddled with so much different tradition, begins to permeate the walls of their community and tell them what it looks like to grow in greater spirituality. Many competing voices begin to tell them what to do. What you find is an immense amount of confusion. They find that they actually don't know how to make sense of what is true and what is not.

Paul, who's in prison, gets word of this. He learns that this is the case for this young group of believers, so he writes this letter to them to clarify for them very specifically with one voice what they need to know, what it looks like to grow in Christlikeness, what it looks like to mature and move forward in life. What he says, and the main idea of this entire letter, is if you want maturity in life, you need clarity of Christ. That's Paul's point. That's what this entire letter is about.

If you want maturity in life, you need clarity of Christ. You don't need spiritual mysticism and special knowledge and some path to a superior existence or some new moral ethic. You don't need any of this other stuff people are telling you. What you need is greater clarity of him, because if you see more of him, you'll see more of yourself.

We just walked through a series called Essential where we unpacked the one thing God wants most for you, which is to see him. The reason we're studying Colossians is this is the natural next step. Now that you see him, what then happens? What then takes place? Your clarity of him produces a maturity in you. This is why, as Paul writes the book of Colossians, he presents what is quite possibly the Bible's highest Christology in all the Scripture.

He paints a picture of Jesus with an unbridled beauty, an out-of-this-world beauty, because he wants them and he wants you to know there's no one like him. There's plenty and all the more to find within him. You just need to see him clearly, and in so doing you'll see yourself. That's what he's going to unpack for us.

He wants to write to a group of young, eager Christians amidst a chaotic and confusing day the truth that they need to know, which is that God, in the person of Jesus, really is above all. That is why I'm so excited for us to read it together, because our room looks a lot like the church in Colossae. We're a group of young people gathered into one space at one time amidst a chaotic and confusing day, amidst a city that is culturally diverse, with a variety of philosophies swirling about, wanting and aspiring to grow.

This letter is written for you. It's written for me. So, we're going to take our time through it. We're going to walk through this thing from beginning to end. We're going to start at the very beginning. We're going to pick it up in chapter 1, starting at verse 1. We're going to start where Paul starts. Where does Paul start? He starts with some encouragement. That's what he does.

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven."

You see, Paul, before he unpacks where these believers need to grow in Christ… And he's going to do it. There's plenty of room for them to grow. There's plenty of ground for them to take. Before he moves into any of that, any area of opportunity for growth, he wants to celebrate the ways God has already grown them. That's what he does. That's why he starts with encouragement.

We, the Porch team, do this every single Wednesday. Tomorrow we're going to meet and talk about what happened tonight, but here's what we do. At the very beginning of that meeting, before we talk about the work that is ahead, we celebrate the work that is behind. We tell God-stories to one another, stories where we saw Jesus move amongst us here this evening, stories where we saw the very clear hand of God on the lives of people or upon our team, because we want gratitude to be the platform from which we plan the next week.

You see, we don't want to work for gratitude; we want to work from gratitude. Paul is doing the exact same thing. He's saying, "Hey, before we talk about all of the areas you need to grow, let's just acknowledge God has already grown you so much. He has already done such a good work in you. Let me tell you why." That's where we're going. What he wants them to see is it's not by way of your personal application that you're going to be able to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and move forward into greater godliness. That's not the case.

No, God has not called you to be successful; he has called you to be faithful. That's it. He's the one who moves the needle, not you. He's the one who makes the difference, not you. He's the one who leads you forward, not you. He is the one who powers the engine of your life and leads you into greater growth, not you. So, we have to celebrate what he has already done. We need to be encouraged by the fact that God is already at work.

So, Paul says, "Hey, I've heard of some things about you that are deeply encouraging. You have a good reputation, and it has reached my ears all the way over in prison." That actually begs the question…How had Paul heard of all this? They were in a different city, separate from Paul, yet he heard about their behavior. What does that mean? It means people didn't just notice what they did; they discussed what they did.

Why do we talk about the things we notice? Why do we talk about those things which we see that we think other people need to know as well? "She's so pretty" or "Man, that guy is the nicest guy ever" or "That meal was amazing." Why do we do that? Because it's not enough that I know; other people need to know. That's why I'm going to tell them. They have a reputation.

It's not sufficient enough for people to be like, "Man, they're really awesome." No. Everybody needs to know "These guys are really great. God has done a good work." So, Paul is like, "Hey, I've heard word. I've gotten wind of your good reputation." What about their good reputation has Paul heard? What can we learn from their example? There are going to be three things.

The first thing we see is that Paul heard of their faith. That's the very first thing. That's what it says in verse 3. "We always thank God…when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus…" That begs the question…What's so impressive about their faith? Paul was always thanking God when he prayed for them. Why did he have to always thank God when he prayed? Why couldn't he have just thanked God when he prayed? Why always?

If you read the Greek, when he prayed, that was continually happening. Every time he prayed, he was continually thanking God. Why does he add the double emphasis of always doing it? He's literally saying, "I always thank God when I pray. I continually thank God when I continually pray for you." Why are you overreacting, Paul? This feels absurd. Sure, these guys have some faith, but why is it something to write home about?

Why is the fact that they've placed their faith in Jesus Christ and trusted in him for the forgiveness of their sins so notable? Well, the answer to that question lies in our understanding of what faith is, because the Bible has a very clear definition of what faith actually is, and here's the thing. If you're not listening, you're going to want to lean in on this. I think it's different than what most of us would assume.

How would you define faith? If I walked around the room right now and we passed a microphone by, what would you say? What would you say is true of faith? What would you define it as? We're not going to do that, but I've done this before, and what I always get… It's a wide range of answers, but what I always hear from people is "It's what you believe. That's what faith is. It's what you believe about God. It's your religious persuasion. It's your personal conception of spiritual realities," which isn't inherently wrong but isn't exactly right.

What we need to know is that faith, as the Bible defines it, is so much more than just what you think about God. It's bigger than your mental activity. Hebrews 11:1 would tell us, "Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." This is probably the single clearest definition in all the Bible of what faith actually is. If you read this verse across different translations, there are different words thrown in there, but that translation, the CSB, is the closest translation to what the Greek is actually saying.

It's saying faith is a reality. It has objectivity to it. There's proof behind it. There's an evidential element to faith. It's not just what you think about God, what you believe about God, what you know about God. It's so much bigger than that, which defies our normal expectation, because how do we walk around asking people what their spiritual persuasion is? What do we say?

We don't say, "Hey, what religion do you ascribe to?" We say, "Hey, tell me about your faith background." And what do we expect? For people to unpack for us a mental checklist of the things they believe. Right? Faith is way bigger. Faith is not just a mentality we adopt; it's a reality we experience, which I think is so important for us.

This is a current passion point of mine. I learned this a few years ago, and it blew my mind. I believe it still to this day. So many of us treat God like an idea to learn, a concept to study, but he's the character of the story. God is not a distant, dormant, far-off God. No, he's right here, right now. He's in the room with you. We don't just talk about "Man, I believe in God." No, you walk with God.

He's a person who wants intimate relationship with you. He doesn't just want you to be intellectually acquainted with him; he wants you to be intimately acquainted with him. He wants you to know him. It's funny. I understand what people say when they're like, "Man, I am studying the character and nature of God." I don't study the character and nature of my wife. That's not how I talk about her. That's not how I treat her. Why? Because she's real.

Now, I care deeply about her character, I care deeply about her nature, but how do I learn those things? By walking with her and talking to her and listening to her and spending time together. That's how I learn about my wife, because she's a real person. God is the same. He's not just one we study; he's one we enjoy. This is what faith is unpacking for us.

You see, what Paul is trying to present is that Jesus has this mind-blowing beauty. The book of Colossians is going to say that Jesus is overwhelmingly supreme and inexhaustibly sufficient. You'll find no higher authority, and you'll find no more perfect sustainer and provider for your life. You need to look nowhere else.

Yet if we just hear that and take it as a nugget of insight, some new knowledge to learn, and it does not impact our lives… If all it does is inform our minds but doesn't inflame our hearts, then this entire series will be a waste. That's why we're spending so much time on this. I need you to get this. I need you to know that he's real and he's personal and he wants you.

When Brooke and I first started dating, I knew all of the right things I was supposed to say, all of the right things I was supposed to do. I knew what it looked like to be a good Christian guy dating a good Christian girl. I knew clarity was really important. I knew I should ask her out on dates and not just to hang out. I knew purity should be a high priority for us, that I should make sure we had mutually agreed-upon boundaries and had established parameters to protect us from any sort of temptation.

I knew it was important that I continually pursued her, that I couldn't just settle for quantity of time but really needed to fight for quality of time with her. I knew how a Christian guy was supposed to conduct himself. I had great vision and really good intentions for our relationship, but if you asked Brooke… She's sitting down here. She can agree if this is actually true. If you asked her for a report on the quality of my leadership during our dating history, I'd have anything but straight A's.

You see, I knew all of the facts of what to do, but I didn't live in light of the truth of them. I had a great dating mentality but a really poor dating reality. I wonder how many of us could say the same is true for us tonight with respect to faith. Our faith mentality is really good. "I could sit down and chop it up with the best of them at the coffee shop. I can let them know what I learned on my podcast. I can talk to them about what I studied this week, yet, though my faith mentality may be so strong, my faith reality actually could not be any weaker."

Many of us have the best of intentions. We know all of the right things to do, but like me in dating there's a lack of action. What you need to know is that faithful believers are never without faithful behavior. The way Jesus unpacks this is he says you will know a tree by its fruit. You'll know it. That's why he curses the barren fig tree. It has all of the markings of life, yet there's no fruit on it. He says that's not real. That's not genuine.

Faithful believers are never without faithful behavior. We must live, act, speak, move, and stand in light of what we know. Think about it like this. Jesus never once asked anyone, "What is your faith?" Never. What did he repeatedly ask? "Where is your faith?" That's what he was searching for, because faith isn't just intellectual; it's experiential. It doesn't just change our thinking; it changes our living. All throughout the Gospels, Jesus responds to the faith, not that he hears about, that he sees and knows about.

Mark 2:3-5 says, "And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" Their faith was observable. Matthew 8:10: "When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, 'Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.'" It was observable.

Mark 5:32-34: "And he looked around to see who had done it." Who had touched him in this story. "But the woman, knowing what had happened to her…" She had been healed of her infirmity. "…came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith [which is observable] has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.'"

You see, these people did not engage the world by way of what they saw; they engaged the world by way of how it should be seen. We must do the same. This is what it looks like to be genuinely faithful as we walk with God. These people's lives were not dictated by the circumstances of this world…bleeding discharge for 15 years, born crippled, overwhelming disease.

Their lives were not dictated by the circumstances of this world; their lives were dictated by the evidences of another world. God had broken into the story. God from on high had become Jesus here down low, and he was engaging with them right where they were. It changed everything about the way they engaged the world.

Just yesterday, Brooke and I were walking in a park, looking at the trees around us, and we called to mind what we know, what the right mentality is. It's said of our reality these trees are groaning in eager anticipation for the sons of glory to be revealed. They're clapping in praise to God. It changed the way we looked at the world. We did not see it as it was; we saw it as it should be seen. So, too, let it be true of you.

This is what Paul first recognized about these believers in Colossae. He looks at them and says, "Man, your faith is amazing." But he doesn't stop there. He keeps going. He says in verse 4, "We've not only heard of your faith in Christ Jesus; we've heard of your love for all the saints," which, again, feels kind of anticlimactic. As believers, loving people is just part of the territory. This is kind of what we do. We go around and love other people. Jesus loves, so we love as well. Yet what we need to understand is why this is a big deal to Paul.

In the English language, when we try to communicate love, we have one word to communicate a variety of different usages. Just to make this really plain, if I came up to you and said, "Hey, your boyfriend loves you and loves pizza," we'd hope that those are not synonymous types of love. Yes? If so, we have a bigger problem on our hands, but what we would likely be getting to is that this same word is used to communicate a variety, a wide range of different affection.

This is not a problem in Greek. In Greek, they don't have one word for love; they have four different words for love. The first word is the word storge. Storge is familial love. It's between a mother and a child, a brother and a sister. The second word is phileo. This is friendship love. It's brotherly affection. Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love…phileo-delphia. Eros is the third one. This is romantic or passionate love. Then the fourth is well known. It's agape, which is sacrificial or unconditional love.

Now, here's what's interesting. Of these four loves, agape is different than all the rest. It's unique. It's distinct from every other one. How so? Why is it different from all of the other ones? Because all of the other ones are emotionally driven. Romantic love is like, "Oh my gosh! Where is my love? I must go to them." That's the way eros expresses itself. Or a mother when she has her newborn… There's a natural gravitation, a pull, a magnetism to love that child.

Agape is not emotionally driven; it's consciously driven. It's not a love of feeling; it's a love of choice. It's not reactive; it's resilient. Does that make sense? It's a resilient type of love, because it does not love in light of anything you do; it loves despite everything you do. This is the heart of agape. Paul, as he's writing to these believers in Colossae… Guess what kind of love he's celebrating about them: agape, a love that is most uncharacteristically true of humanity, yet most quintessentially true of God. That's what he's saying.

He's saying, "You're loving all of the saints within your city with a kind of love that is not of this world but is of a different one." To put all of this in a sentence, what Paul is trying to say is that godly love is not just an instinctual feeling but an intentional choice. It's the kind of love they have, and it's the kind of love they made a reputation for. Why is that?

Well, as we go on, we see that this love is very characteristically dispensed, not just to those they are like but to all people regardless of background, regardless of economic status, regardless of their spiritual persuasion. They are all united together because of this kind of love. First John 4:8 says, "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." What kind of love? The kind of love that would send his only Son into the world so that we might live through him, the kind of love that is sacrificing, the kind of love that's intentional.

This is a love that's very unlike our own. Let me explain it like this. Think about the people you're naturally drawn toward in life, even the people you're sitting around right now whom you came with tonight and are sitting beside this evening. Who are you naturally drawn toward in life? What's true of them? Well, for lack of a better word, they're lovable. There's something about them you personally enjoy.

You see them, and what you see is a really good return on investment, a really deep sense of joy by way of their presence. You find that they're really easy to spend time with, that they're really funny or "Man, they're really attractive, and I like being around that." You see in them a variety of different things that help you to feel like, "Man, there's a benefit to being near them."

These are the people we draw near to. Think about the people Jesus drew near to. What kinds of people did Jesus draw near to? Adulterers, addicts, blasphemers, and bigots. Jesus did not draw near to lovable, beautiful people; he drew near to unlovable and broken people. This is what agape love does. You see, Jesus loved with a love that was unlike the world's but just like God's, one that was not instinctual but intentional.

Because the believers Paul is writing to have been loved with a love like this, they love with a love like this. It's the natural outflow. "I've received this, and now the natural response is to give this to other people." The Bible would say so itself. John 13:35 says, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples…" You'll stand out if you have love for one another. First John 3:10: "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother."

You see, those who have been loved by God love like God. It's our trademark, our unique signature on life. We don't just love by feeling; we love by choice. We bite our tongue when our words would hurt. We patiently endure when our friends are cruel. We forgive an enemy who has done us wrong. We do what's right when everybody else chooses to do what's wrong. This is the kind of love genuine believers in Christ are marked by, and it's the kind of love the world takes notice of, because it's not characteristically true of anybody else but our God.

Paul is saying, "Hey, y'all have an amazing faith, a faith that's not just full of the right mentality but is actually expressing the right reality, but not just that. You have a love that doesn't look like the world's but looks like God's, that doesn't do unto others as they have done unto you but does unto others as you would have them do unto you."

He doesn't stop there. As he keeps going, Paul tells them there's one more thing he has heard. He unpacks it in verse 5. He says, "…because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth…"

Paul addresses here toward the end of his introduction one final notable characteristic of the Christians in Colossae that he has learned of, which is their hope. That's the last thing. Paul, in his opening introduction, identifies three notable characteristics about these believers. Do you know what they are? Faith, hope, and love. He identifies the holy triad. He looks at them and says, "You have all of the markings of God on your life." Again, that begs the question for us…Why is he celebrating the hope they have in heaven?

Like, "Paul, we get it, man. You're celebrating their faith, which at first seemed a little bit obvious, but then again, we realized faith isn't exactly what we thought. You were celebrating their love, but love is kind of the natural outflow of the Christian life. But we get it. It's a different kind of love. It's a godly type of love. But why are you celebrating their hope in heaven? That's just part of the process. That's kind of formulaic to the Christian experience. You place your faith in Jesus, and what you get is eternal life. That's on the other side of this agreement. Why, Paul, are you celebrating it?"

Well, we need to understand the kind of hope Paul is very specifically speaking to. You see, Paul does know the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus for those who have placed their faith in him, but he's saying that this hope is not just a hope that's looking forward to the future, but it's fueling them right now. That's what he's getting at. Paul is teaching us from their example that hope is not just an anticipation of tomorrow; it's a motivation for today.

He's addressing the fact that "Y'all are looking forward to one day when you will be with God. You are anticipating the fact that you will be in heaven at some point in the future, but your faith and your love are rooted in the fact that you have that hope right now. It's not just something that's looking forward; it's fueling you right now. It's motivating your life here in the present."

As an example, when I received the offer to come here to The Porch, Brooke and I had about a month of time between the time at which I was offered the job and we signed the letter to when we moved and I had my first day. We had a month. When we signed the offer, we had a sealed promise. We had a hope laid up for us in Dallas. We knew we were coming here. We had all the anticipation of arriving here in the future.

We knew we would be amongst our friends and we would have the chance to spend time with our family here in the city and we'd get the chance to be a part of this ministry and see the way God is moving. We anticipated all of it, but it wasn't just something we looked forward to; it also impacted how we lived within the month we had left in Houston. What did it do? It unleashed us to make the most of the time we had left.

We were anticipating something great, so it motivated us in the present. We had conversations the likes of which we'd put off. Now time was of the essence. We needed to share the gospel. We needed to commission others. We needed to challenge their faith. We needed to admonish the faithful. We needed to do all of these different things to call people into the light of the gospel that we ourselves had received and now we ourselves were going to proclaim.

Not just that. It allowed us to take deep interest in investing in the relationships God had given. We would sit at dinners, and we would linger in conversation. We would take time with friends, and we would celebrate what God had done, because we had a hope ahead that caused us to have great investment where we were.

Even Tim McGraw gets this. "Live like you were dying." He's like, "Yeah, man. A vision of your pending doom, your expiration, is going to motivate you right now in the present. So go skydiving. Go rock climbing. Go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu. Get out there and do it." That's what he's unpacking.

Paul is saying the same thing is true when we have a hope laid up for us in heaven. We know, "Man! There's something glorious ahead." That doesn't make me anxious about today; that unleashes me today. Hope of a promised future unleashes you to make the most of your present reality. Hope of a promised future… Promised. It's not just preferred. That would be really great. It's a promised future.

Jesus Christ went to the cross and rose from the dead to secure the fact that we'd be with God forever. It's a promise. We're going to the pearly gates. We're going to be with God in eternity, and it's going to be glorious. We're going to get to be with all of our besties, but it's not just that it's a promised future that we look forward to; it's a present reality upon which we're unleashed.

You see, this is what is different about Christianity than the rest of the world. In the face of inevitable death, the rest of the world has no hope to offer, no hope that is promised the way we've described. Other religiosity would say, "There's a preferred future, but you've got to get to it. You've got to work your way. You've got to work from the sweat of your brow to get to that preferred end."

But Christianity, the faith we have in Jesus, does not sweat nor worry or feel any concern that this is the case, because we don't have to ascend to God, for God has descended to us. He has stepped into our story, and in so doing he has given us a remarkable hope, a hope that we not only look forward to one day but we enjoy and experience here today.

In 1683, John Owen, who was a great Puritan, was lying on his deathbed, and he was having his secretary write a note to one of his dear friends. As she began to pen the letter, she wrote out from John to his friend, "I'm still in the land of the living." He's on his deathbed. He's providing an update, so she writes, "I'm still in the land of the living." Upon hearing it, John said, "Stop. Don't say that. Change that and say instead, 'I'm yet in the land of the dying, but I hope soon to be in the land of the living.'"

You and I may not be lying on our deathbed quite like John, but, friends, we are urgently expiring, which is a really heavy thing to think about. Some of you are here for the first time. You're like, "Wow! That's how this guy is going to wrap it up? That's where he's going to land the plane? I told you we shouldn't have come here. Why didn't we go get food?" That's a really heavy place to end, but it does beg the question…What are you hoping in tonight?

What do you think, if you achieve it, will give you security, purpose, and meaning? Is it your job, that thing which you want so badly to be a part of, yet you're already planning to retire from today? Is it your relationship, despite the fact that I've stood at the altar of multiple weddings and listened to people make vows and account for the worst of the other person's self? Is it your friends? Statistically, most friendships won't last beyond 10 years in total length.

Is it your beauty? Gravity has never lost that one. Is it your platform, your popularity, even though on that platform you're only as valuable to people as the performance you keep up? What are you searching and hoping to place your security in? Where is it? It would serve you well to identify it tonight and in identifying it register with the reality that it's insufficient to save you.

I'm pleading with you to get that one. I want so badly for you to take it home and to realize that nothing apart from Christ is sufficient to save. Nothing apart from Christ is sufficient to secure. Only he and he alone is capable of providing you a hope that will never waver, will never fade, nor ever dim. Why do I know that? Because in Christ's life Jesus came to give faith. He lived and interacted with the world in a way that communicated to us there's not just a mentality to have; there's a reality to experience.

I know this, because Jesus in his death came to show us love, not just doing what was instinctual, because instinct would never have led him to the cross, but by doing what's intentional and saying, "Though you do not deserve me, I will initiate toward you. Though you are not lovely, I will love you. Though you are so very broken, I will be broken that you may be made beautiful as I am." In Christ's resurrection he shows us hope, that there is hope of everlasting life out in front of us, but there is hope of everlasting life available to you right here, right now, tonight.

This is where the apostle Paul begins as he writes this letter to the church at Colossae, and this is a suitable place for us to begin tonight. He commends them for their faith. He commends them for their love. He commends them for their hope. What's the status of your faith, your love, and your hope here tonight? Let me pray for us.

Father, nothing about these evenings is coincidental. Nothing about these evenings is haphazard. So, Father, as I have friends here in the room tonight who feel like, "Man, my mail was just read. He just peered right into the inmost parts of my soul. It feels like he was talking about me," they would know that was by design, God…not mine, but yours…for you, God, have brought them here tonight that something might change right now here in this moment.

The conviction they feel is from your Spirit. It's not guilt of what happened last night or shame for what happened last week; it's conviction to say, "You don't have to go that way any longer. Come with me instead." God, I pray, as we come to the close of this evening, we wouldn't check out but we would register with this truth. You've been building to this moment, and you want to meet with us as we are. Stir up our hearts. Sharpen our minds. Make quick our faith, God, to follow wherever it is you want us to go this evening.

If it's placing hope in you, Jesus, would we do so fearlessly? Would we acknowledge, "Yes, I cannot save myself. My destiny apart from you is life here and now and then death in the grave forever, yet I can take hope in knowing that you, Jesus, did live life here in the now, you did die into the grave, but that grave could not keep you. You burst forth from its clutches, and you declared victory over all of creation, over all of sin, and over all of death. I place my hope in you, God."

Some of us need to realize, "I've just intellectually assented. That's all my spiritual experience has been. It has been learning more about God, but I want more of him tonight. I don't want just an intellectual acquaintance; I want an intimate acquaintance with him." Tonight, God, I pray that people would confess and respond accordingly to that conviction.

Lastly, God, there are some people here who need to love those whom they have felt no ounce of love toward. Would they see in you, Christ, one who did not respond to us appropriately but moved toward us radically with a love we did not deserve. Move here now. Take your time, God. We're waiting for you. It's in Jesus' name we pray, amen.

If you would, let's stand to our feet together. I meant what I said when I prayed. We build to this moment. It's not because we're trying to get an emotional draw from the room; it's because this is the time when God has been working through worship and his Word to stir up response. I just want to put it on the table before you. God is real and active and true. He wants to meet with you now. How will we respond to the real, active, and true God who is here amongst us?