Discussion Questions on Colossians 3:18–4:1
A note about these questions
These questions are designed for the Life Groups of Cities Church. Their goal is to guide you into level-three conversation. They are using the latest sermon, “Jesus in the Details,” as a starting place for honest dialogue about our faith in the gospel amid the complexities of life. In case you missed the sermon, I've tried to provide enough content to get everyone on the same page. As you'll see, they are set up in clusters. The questions are subdivided by letters, each as a follow up to the one before it, moving from theoretical to practical. Throw in any extra questions that come to mind, or skip what seems out of place. These are a tool to use however they are most helpful.
A couple weeks ago, Pastor Joe gave a short summary of this section in Colossians: What Jesus has done changes who we are, and therefore changes how we live. And the starting place for how this change occurs is a new orientation of the heart. It’s what he has called “Gospel Presence,” which he defines like this:
By gospel, I simply mean the good news that as sinners, we are embraced and accepted by God because of what Jesus has done for us. He lived the life that we couldn’t live. He died the death we should have died. And God raised him from the dead, triumphing over sin and death. Outside of Jesus, there is no hope. In Jesus, we have a living hope. By “presence,” I mean that there’s a way of being, an orientation to life, a fundamental attitude that emanates from the core of who you are that shapes and colors everything that you do. The way that you carry yourself. The aura that you display. The impression that you give. That’s presence. . . .
[Gospel presence means you are] oriented by Christ, putting on the new man, defined by the love and grace of God, ruled by the peace of Christ, with the word of God dwelling richly, and doing everything in the name of Jesus, with gratitude bursting from your heart.
If we all have some orientation of the heart, some kind of soundtrack backgrounding our lives, some kind of presence, what might it look like if it’s not Gospel Presence? What might it look like if something other than Gospel Presence were the background music of our lives?
A: Using Pastor Joe’s above description, describe the opposite of Gospel Presence. In other words, if you’re not “oriented by Christ … defined by the love and grace of God … ruled by the peace of Christ” then what occupies that place? If not the gospel, what kind of presence might you have?
Colossians 3:18 tells us, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” We talked about how, on the societal level, the word “submit” doesn’t often garner positive associations when it pertains to marriage.
A: What are some examples of the negative connotations associated with the word?
Because of these negative connotations on a societal level, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable using the word “submit,” even though it’s a biblical word. But rather than swap out the word for something else, I think the best way to recover the concept is with faithful practice, coupled with helpful synonyms. Now, imagine for a moment that you’re talking to a non-Christian friend, and your friend says, “Hey, I’m interested in Christianity. But this whole “wives submit” bit is ridiculous. I don’t get it.”
B: How would you explain the meaning to your friend? What kind of stories or illustrations might you use? What examples might you use from your own marriage?
Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
We talked about how the environment of work is thoroughly about people — around people, with people, for people. And yet, the apostle Paul tells us that we should mainly do our work for Jesus, not people.
From the sermon:
If you don’t learn to work for Jesus like this, your work will not last and you won’t last in your work. Because work itself — no matter what kind of job you have — work itself will become boring and there will be parts of your work that will not be your favorite. If work itself is what it’s all about for you then you will consistently be disappointed, and you’ll always be looking for something else, and you’ll never do more than what’s required.
Okay, okay, but seriously? Sometimes there are parts of our jobs that we just can’t stand. And in some cases, it can be a wise decision to consider switching to something different. This could especially make sense when there are opportunities for better compensation, colleagues, or fittingness. So indeed, there’s that. But even then, there are those aspects of any job that will feel like flat-out labor. There is toiling.
A: What are the hardest aspects of your work? What are your least favorite parts? What about it makes it so difficult?
B: Now, how might the reality that you are working for Jesus, not man, impact this aspect of your work? Be specific. Imagine yourself doing that last favorite part of your job for Jesus. How might it look different?
The preeminence of Jesus in everything is a central theme in Colossians. He is preeminent over the old creation of this world; and he is preeminent over the new creation of the church; it would make sense, then, that he be preeminent over the details of my life. And this is good news.
From the sermon:
The good news in [the preeminence of Jesus] is that it’s only when Jesus is supreme over these details that they are transformed from burdens to gifts, from drudgery to freedom. Apart from Jesus, the temptation in every relational context is make it about “me.”
A: Why do you think making every relational context about yourself ultimately a burden?
B: How does reconnecting the details of our relationships to the supremacy of Jesus infuse them with meaning? What difference does it make? Why do you think such reconnecting is so important?