The One Key to Every Door
Dr. Jim Denison
The recent Business Week cover caught my eye: “Dream Machines–The future of cars: smart tech, sizzling design, more choices.”
I’ve been fascinated with cars since my father and I built my first Pinewood Derby Cub Scout racer–which still sits on my shelf at home, by the way. My first car was a 1966 Dodge Dart, which wasn’t. You’d hit the gas and it would laugh. It featured manual steering, brakes, windows and locks; vinyl seats which became a summer-time furnace in Houston; a push-button AM radio; and an under-dash air conditioner which dripped ice cold condensation on the floor.
According to the article, the newest cars have a few innovations my Dart did not. Sensors which warn the driver when the car veers out of its lane or heads for a possible accident. Plasma-based technology which releases charged ions into the air conditioner to filter out mold and bacteria. Navigation systems which will soon tell us where the traffic jams and accidents are. Radios which connect to an iPod or memory card. But none of these are the innovation I need most.
Remote door locks have been commonplace for years. But car makers have yet to make one I cannot foul up. I’m constantly pushing the trunk release button when I mean to unlock the doors. I’ve hit the panic button more times than I wish to remember.
Last Thursday morning was the worst yet. I left the 6 a.m. prayer meeting to get my briefcase from my car, walked up to my car, and pushed the remote. I heard the door beep, pulled on the handle, but the door stayed locked. I tried several times. Then I realized I was standing at Bill Rudderow’s car, which is the exact car, make, model, year, and color as mine. My car was eight feet away, beeping at me. My friend Dave Noble walked up, saw me apparently trying to steal a car, and said, “Baylor’s really expensive, isn’t it?”
The day they make a key which unlocks every door I need to open will be a great day in my life.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one decision could solve all your problems? Help you with your financial worries, your health issues, your family’s struggles? Guide you at school and work? Give you the wisdom you need for every issue you face? If one key could open every door in your life?
Live in the will of God
Paul has already expressed gratitude for the Colossian Christians–their faith practiced in the presence of Christ and love for all God’s people, motivated by their decision to live for heaven rather than earth. As C. S. Lewis reminds us, when we aim at heaven we get earth thrown in. But even such mature Christians have not yet arrived at their spiritual destination. Paul still intercedes constantly for them: “we have not stopped praying for you” (v. 9a).
Here’s what he prays: “asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will” (v. 9b). “Knowledge” translates the Greek word for “full knowledge which grasps and penetrates into the object.” He prays that they might know fully the will of God for their lives. How will they know it? “Through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
Wisdom is the ability to understand God’s will in all life situations; understanding is the ability to relate truths to each other and construct a coherent world view.
He prays that they understand what God wants them to do in every situation, and how that situation relates to his overall purpose for their lives and world. He wants them to know what to do next, and why. What steps to take, and what ultimate destination to seek. How to live each day, and the purpose for which to live their lives.
Why is understanding God’s practical will and ultimate purpose so important? It is the key which unlocks the following doors:
Then we “may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way” (v. 10a). Living in his will is the only way to please God.
“Bearing fruit in every good work”–then we reproduce spiritually, helping others follow Jesus.
“Growing in the knowledge of God”–then we grow spiritually, becoming more and more like Jesus.
“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience”–then we live with his power, enduring all problems and trusting God in all situations.
“Joyfully giving thanks to the Father”–then we live in joyful gratitude every day to the God who has rescued us from the darkness of sin and hell and transferred us into his kingdom, redeeming and forgiving our souls.
Do you want to please God? To help others follow him? To grow spiritually? To live with his power? To live with overflowing joy? Then you must understand and practice God’s practical will and ultimate purpose for your life. If you are, your life will manifest these results. If you are not, you won’t.
Live for the glory of God
So far, so good. But what is the will of God for our lives? What is the overarching purpose for which he intends us, the north on the compass, the destination to which every step should take us?
Colossians was written by Paul to be read out loud, from a scroll, in a single setting. Teachers like me divide it up into sections, but it is best understood as a whole. If we keep reading, we’ll discover the answer.
Paul next offers what I consider the most profound single theological description of Jesus to be found anywhere in Scripture. We’ll study it in detail next week. Here he tells us: What Jesus is: “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (v. 15). What he has done: “by him all things were created” (v. 16). Who he is now: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead” (vs. 17-18a).