I remember the time when I was a teenage boy and my brother came to my rescue. I also remember with my wife rescuing a friend from a lake. Another teenage memory was having to pass exams to get to the university that I aspired to - I had to qualify to get in. Rescue and qualify are two concepts that we find in the Bible, relevant to faith and the story of God.
To help us think about that, consider a young baby. It would be natural for us to want her to grow, to thrive, and to know loving support and encouragement. We would hope as Christians that she matures into the person God has made her to be, to flourish, discover God given purpose for herself. That is because we believe that God has a purpose for each and every one of us.
But let us be honest about the world around us. What might the world tell her as she grows? From even early years at school she will be assessed and tested, with the education system expecting her to qualify at various stages. Also from a young age the world will want her to become a consumer, bombarding her with adverts and the like that tell her to look like this or have that ... as if without those things her life did not count. And the world will want her to be successful ... so that she might consume even more!
This world that substitutes consumption for love makes self and self-advancement a goal, in which it becomes all too easy for any of us to lose our moral compass. This world has powers at work that do not respect national boundaries, but operate all around. The Bible writers called this a kingdom - a kingdom of darkness. In this kingdom rather than flourishing people find themselves feeling trapped and drowning with no hope.
God understands this predicament and doesn't simply stand by. He comes, and comes to change things with decisive action. Incredibly He comes as a baby, totally dependent on those around him just like any other baby. Yet when this baby - called Jesus - grows through childhood to a mature adult he lives a life that is remarkably different, one that fits a different kind of framework to the rest of the world, the framework of God's purposes.
This is because Jesus lives a life that belongs to a different Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, that shines light on our humanity. Such difference inevitably led to a power clash, with the light exposing the dark. But Jesus did not simply trample on the opposition, but instead lived a life laid down, even allowing himself to be killed - that is where the real power is seen! 3 days later his body was nowhere to be found, because Jesus was in fact alive again.
This is the extraordinary story of God in Jesus Christ, through the life of Jesus, his death and resurrection, showing us a completely different Kingdom. And this achieves two things. First it provides a way for us to be rescued - we don't have to live like we used to. We too can live a life laid down to the ways of the world and discover true purpose, ability to flourish and be fruitful for God. It starts by simply putting our trust in Jesus, asking Him to be the reason for our living, which leads to the second thing: having trusted we are now qualified. God stamps on us PASS, so we are now free to discover God's purposes for ourselves and walk tall.
This is the story of the believers in Colossae. They heard about the story of Jesus and realized for themselves that He was alive. Believing in Him they were rescued to live a new life in Him. They also qualified, not because they worked hard to pass an exam, but because God simply gave them that status which enabled them to live for an inheritance of great riches that are ready for them in the Kingdom of God.
These believers were celebrated for their faith and their loving actions that resulted from their faith. That can be our story too. In the Countess Free Church we discover God setting us free to flourish in the purposes He has for us, to live different, enabling us to be a people based on love once again rather than simply self and consumption. Discovering a purpose to set others free, we work with all kinds of people as we engage with the community openly and generously.
And you are free to join too: believe and see the risen Jesus, and He will not only rescue you, but also qualify you to enter His Kingdom and inherit all the riches God has already stored up for you.