7/15/01, P6C

“Finding Our Niche
Colossians 1: 1-14

"For this reason, since the day we have heard (about your faith in Christ), we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you might be filled With the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, as you bear fruit in every good work, and as you grow in the knowledge of God." (9-10, NRSV)

The main thing we do as young people is find our niche, our place in the greater scheme of life. It is a complicated process in today's world of so many choices. Our situation in life is sometimes almost chosen for us by the particular opportunities presented to us individually. Oftentimes our career is a matter of following in the footsteps of a parent or friend. We all know young adults who are the second and third generation car dealer, fireman, or doctor. Some seem to fall into fortune without much personal choice; however, most of us have had to struggle to seek our specially suited situation. This involves an enterprising exercise of our deliberation, determination, drive, commitment, focus, enthusiasm and gusto.

There was one dear friend who never left home, spending his entire life in the house in which he was born. He did have a job at the mill, and for a while had to commute to Atlanta, but he drove home every night and slept in the same bed. He was happy for he had determined early on that that was what God wanted him to do. Who are we to say that he was wrong? Can we say that he missed anything by not packing boxes and renting moving vans?

There have been others who have seemingly spent their entire lives working hard at meaninglessness work. C.S. Lewis tells of a "Mrs. Fidget" who spent her life "working her fingers to the bone" for her family. Even when they did not want so many hot meals and freshly ironed clothes, they couldn't stop her. In fact, being decent people they felt like they had to help her...
"They did things for her to help her do things for them that they didn't want done." Later the minister said that "Mrs. Fidget is now at rest. Let us hope she is. What's quite certain is that her family are." (The Four Loves, p.75)

The fact of daily work is that it is a significant part of our lives, whatever the task, but we must also continue to have a life after the work day is done. We only have one life to live and we must keep the various components in their place, all the while remaining true to our higher calling by God. Everything must mesh without conflicts. We cannot live for Christ and work at a job that forces us to breach our ethics. If nothing else comes out of it, the Gold Club trial that has so attracted the world media, has shown us that you can't dance with the Devil and the Lord at the same time.

Theologically we talk in terms of finding God's will for our lives. In our text we hear Saint Paul saying that he is praying that the new Christians in the city of Colossae might, "...be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (v.9). Paul is of course not talking about generating wisdom from within, but waiting on Wisdom from the Spirit. Through prayer, reading God's Word, research, study, and listening to the advice of wise fellow Christians, we can eventually come to a point of knowing with certainty what God wants us to do with our lives.

Paul is also writing to the Church at Colossae as the community of faithful individual believers banded together as a fledgling local church. Churches, as well as individuals, have to seek God's providential will for their direction. Without direction and vision life is like following a road without a map. It is usually good to keep a current road map handy on trips even if we think we know the way. We sometimes have to stop and rethink our direction. Sometimes the terrain changes. Along the way we might encounter a storm and have to put on snow tires.

Just this week Marilyn and I had to recheck our map in order to find Candi's apartment in Roswell. We took a wrong exit and the once familiar road had changed because so many new buildings and businesses had been thrown up. So, we stopped to get gas and carefully consulted our huge Greater Atlanta Detailed Street Map. I have heard that some folks (especially males) refuse to consult a map for directions and would rather be lost. Hopefully that does not translate into their need to constantly find redirection in life.

Living for Christ is not only a matter of finding the road, but also staying on it, and moving in the right direction. Some folks have chosen the highway toward heaven but have embarked on the wrong road before they realized it. Isn't that the way it is whenever we get lost on a trip? We don't decide to get lost, we just take a wrong turn because we weren't watching the road signs and consulting the map.

David and I went to Ellijay for our dear Jim Atherton's committal. We decided that Ellijay was not a big town and we could just find the cemetery without checking the map. So we drove north, turned around and went back through the town square and took the south road, then we drove east and never did find it, until we finally asked directions, "Oh it's simple, I don't know how you missed it, it's just two blocks to the north east!" the gas station attendant said, smiling.

How can we expect to make it through life's meandering trails without consulting God's road map and asking wise Christian friends for directions?

An experienced traveling salesman got on a plane for Orlando and ended up in Houston; he had gotten on the wrong plane. The good news is that he got on another plane and finally ended up in Orlando. The Great News from God is that in our spiritual lives we can change planes. The need for spiritual change, or conversion, is at the heart of Jesus' Gospel. Sometimes we need to change planes in search of our niche.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

7/15/01, P6C