Let It Go
By Rev. Heidi L. Barham | July 31, 2022
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Read Colossians 3:1 – 11 (NIV)
Our text this morning comes from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church. Written around 60 A.D. while Paul was imprisoned in Rome, his letter was initially intended to combat the wrongdoing that was happening in the church as well as to show believers that they already have everything they need in Christ… they did not, and we do not, need to look elsewhere.
There are four chapters that make up the Book of Colossians. The first two chapters highlight what Christ has done for us, while the second two explain what we, as Christians, are supposed to do… how we should live our lives in response to Christ’s love and ultimate sacrifice.
And it is with that thought in mind, that I want to focus our attention this morning on the subject:
LET IT GO.
Now, I have to be honest, when I first started working on the sermon for today and came up with the title LET IT GO… my mind kept going back to the 2013 Disney movie, Frozen. The theme song, “Let It Go,” is probably the most recognized song to come from the movie’s soundtrack.
In doing a little research about the Disney movie, I learned that the animated film was actually adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen book, “The Snow Queen.” Central to the core of both stories is the consummate battle between good and evil… a battle which can only be won by love.
Fundamental to the plot of each story is the way in which the negative influences of the world threaten society as a whole… until love wins the day. It is actually not so unlike what we are living with today… where we, too, find ourselves caught in the midst of a struggle between good and evil… between truth and lies… between generosity and greed.
But because of God’s love, we have been rescued from all that would threaten to destroy us. We have been blessed with the love of Christ which melts hearts that have grown cold because of the darkness and bitterness of this world.
And we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us find our way out of the dangerous realms where evil runs rampant. And what awaits us is even better than the “happily ever after” that fairy tales like the Snow Queen promise.
So, on that note, let us spend just a few moments reflecting on our New Testament lesson for the morning…
Listen to the text again, this time as it is found in the Message Paraphrase:
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
Let’s see if we can put this into a little better perspective…
In those times when we find ourselves going down the wrong road… heading on a path bound for destruction… holding onto behaviors and attitudes that do not exemplify what it means to be followers of Christ… it is in those moments when, according to the Apostle Paul and the words of that Disney song… we need to LET IT GO, LET IT GO.
Simply put, whatever it is that we were doing before we came to know Jesus as our Savior and Lord (or even sometimes after that)… whatever causes division and discord among us in our homes, on our jobs and in the church… whatever wreaks havoc on relationships with our families, friends, and coworkers… whatever creates hostile and toxic environments wherever we go… whatever puts us in the position to fall prey so easily to sin and temptation… whatever keeps us from living a life that is pleasing and acceptable to God… whatever IT may be… we need to LET IT GO.
Oh, but I am pretty sure that someone is sitting here thinking to themselves, “You don’t understand Pastor Heidi… it is just not that easy to LET IT GO.”
Some of the things we have been doing are simply old habits that feel like they are too hard to break. Some of the things we have been saying just come up and out of our mouths before we even realize it. Some of the things that we are thinking just seem to come out of nowhere as if we have little or no control over those unkind, critical, and judgmental thoughts.
Well let me just say that I get it, it can be very hard. And if we are trying to LET IT GO in our own strength, we will have little chance of success.
But don’t despair. Listen to what Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church:
And this is what Paul had to say to the Philippian Church:
In other words, in good times and in bad, we can make it through any and every situation not because of anything we can do on our own but because of Christ who gives us the strength to endure. It is because of God’s grace, that we have all that we need to persevere through our Lord and our Savior, Jesus the Christ.
But let’s be clear, the Lord does not promise that any of this will be easy, but He does promise to be with us through it all… to never leave us nor forsake us… to be with us always, even to the end of the age.
And because we have the Lord’s promise to be with us, Paul’s encouragement to the Colossians, and to us, is to set our hearts on the things above… to think on eternal not temporal things… to have “the same mindset as Christ” (Philippians 2:9) … to put our priorities in order, focusing not on the things of this world, on this difficult life, but on the best that is yet to come… everlasting life in the kingdom of God.
Far too often; however, we get caught up in the earthly trappings, the glitz and glamour that so cunningly causes us to take our eyes off of the prize. But Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians (3:14), “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
There is nothing in this life that can ever compare to the life that is to come… but that does not mean that there won’t be enticements along the way. There seems to be this prevailing notion in modern day society that “if it feels good, do it.” But suffice it to say, not everything that feels good, really is good.
That is why in the text for the morning, Paul says to, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed…” In other words, all those things that may feel good in the moment but bring heartache and devastation later… LET IT GO, LET IT GO…
But not only do we need to let go of the things that may make us feel good in the short run, Paul tells us to get rid of “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from [our] lips.” … all those negative and hurtful emotions and behaviors.
Talk about a tall order… all too often those are the very things that have become our default mechanism when things do not go our way… when that driver cuts us off in traffic or takes that parking space we were heading toward… when our spouse or significant other keeps pushing that button, seemingly on purpose, to get on our last nerve… when those elected officials keep pushing their personal agendas ahead of the good of the people they have been called to serve…
If anger, rage, and bitterness have been our go-to response, it is time to LET IT GO and take off the old self and put on the new self as Paul describes it… that new self that reflects the image of Christ… that new self that understands and accepts that we have ALL been made in the image and likeness of Christ… that new self that follows Christ’s command to love God with all of who we are and love our neighbor as we love ourselves… that new self that is willing not to be served but to serve, just like Christ.
Now there was something else that came to mind when I thought about what it means to LET IT GO. Have you ever been in the planning stage before going on a trip? A trip that requires you to pack a bag, even if it is just an overnight bag… If you’re anything like me, you start out with all this stuff that you need to take with you… just in case.
But when you realize that not all of the stuff that you think you need will fit in your bag… you begin to prioritize your real needs and you start to set some things off to the side… after all who really needs four pairs of shoes for a two-day excursion? And how many hair products can you really use on a quick turnaround trip? So, you look at all that extra stuff and make the decision to LET IT GO…
Well let me suggest, the journey through life can be like that as well. We accumulate things we have very little use for simply because clever marketers have convinced us we cannot live without them. We establish habits and behaviors based on what we think we are supposed to do because of the actions and expectations of the people we have surrounded ourselves with. We form relationships that are toxic and dysfunctional because the idea of being with someone, anyone, seems so much better than the prospect of being alone.
But we do not have to settle for things in this life that are empty and meaningless and have no eternal value… We do not have to put up with
attitudes and behaviors, ours or anyone else’s, that are neither pleasing nor acceptable to God.
And we do not have to settle for relationships that are harmful and distressful simply to avoid being alone… because the fact of the matter is that we are NEVER alone… Remember, the Lord has promised to be with us ALWAYS, even to the end of the age…
God gave us His Son which means we really do have all that we need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (see Philippians 4:19).
Jesus came and gave His life in exchange for ours so that we would have life, and have it to the full (see John 10:10).
But not only that, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us and remind us of all that Jesus has promised… including His promise of peace.
I think it is safe to say that we do have everything that we need. And so, the question I leave with us today is simply this…
Are we willing to LET IT GO and surrender all to Jesus so we can be all that God has called us to be…?
If so, then I want to invite us to stand and join in singing our Hymn of Discipleship: O Jesus, I Have Promised #612. Back