THINK: Imagine you went to the mall and did a survey asking "Who is Jesus, and what is He all about?" What kinds of responses do you think you'd get? Many people might define Jesus as a wise teacher who started a religion and had a lot of good things to say. Some may consider Him to be a prophet. A few might see Him as a fictional character or even have a negative opinion of Him. Of course, some would actually describe Him as the Son of God who died for our sins so we could be forgiven by God and live with Him forever. But how would you answer the question, "Who is Jesus?" This passage can help you comprehend and clarify who He truly is.
RESPOND: To be "holy" (v. 2) implies being morally pure, spiritually whole, devoted to God and set apart for His purposes. Why is it imperative for people in the church to be "holy and faithful"? (See 1:2 note.) What precautions must you take to stay faithful to God and avoid deception? In what ways do people today mix human philosophies and traditions with the true message of Christ? In what way does "the hope that is stored up for you in heaven" (v. 5) inspire greater faith and love? In what way is Paul's prayer in verses 9-12 a good example of how to pray for others? (See 1:9-12 note.) What is "God's will" (v. 9), how can you know it, and how do you follow it? (See 1:9 note.) What do we need in order to live worthy of representing Jesus? (See 1:11 note.) From what has God rescued us and how? (See 1:13 note.) What are some things you can tell about the nature and character of Christ from verses 15-23? What is implied by the fact that "He is the image of the invisible God"? What does it mean that He is "the firstborn over all creation"? (See 1:15 note.) What is Jesus' relation to all creation? (See 1:16 note.) What does it mean that He is "the firstborn from among the dead," and why is that significant for all who follow Christ? (See 1:18 note.) What is implied by the fact that "God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ]"? (See 1:19 note.) What did God the Father accomplish through His Son, Jesus Christ? (See 1:20 note.) What does it mean that He reconciled all things to himself? Why were you once alienated from God, and how did Jesus provide a way for you to know God (v. 22)? What responsibility do you have in remaining in a right relationship with God? (See 1:23 note.)
PRAY: Pray for the insight to know God's will and faithfulness to follow it. Give God thanks for the hope of being with Him in heaven. Give Jesus the praise He deserves as God in human form.
ACT: Spend a few extra minutes in prayer today. Pray for people you know (perhaps your youth group, Bible club, church or family) using the principles of Paul's prayer in verses 9-12. Use the related study note as a guide.
THINK: Bank tellers and others who frequently handle money are typically taught to recognize counterfeit cur- rency. They do not learn this by being exposed to a variety of phony bills. They learn the skill by handling real ones. By becoming extremely familiar with the real thing, they can easily recognize a fake. The same principle applies to recognizing spiritual truth. The better you know Jesus, the less likely you are to be fooled by false teaching.
RESPOND: In what way do Christ's followers continue to share in His sufferings? (See 1:24 note.) How can your suffering for the cause of Christ affect and benefit others - those who know Christ and those who don't? Even though Jesus' suffering was complete and more than enough to provide for our relationship with God, why do people continue to suffer as they serve His purposes and share His message? What is "the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints"? (See 1:26 note.) What is signifi- cant about "Christ in you," and what ultimate hope does that provide? (See 1:27 note.) In what way do spiritual challenges and true teaching help "perfect" Jesus' followers? (See 1:28 note.) What kinds of "treasures of wis- dom and knowledge" (2:3) are "hidden" in Christ"? How can truly knowing Jesus keep you from being deceived?
PRAY: Ask God for the strength to share in His sufferings and to reach others with His message of love and life. Give Jesus thanks for living and working through you by the Holy Spirit.
ACT: Go through the day with an intense awareness of Jesus living through you by His Holy Spirit. Let this guide your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. Let it inspire faith and boldness to say and do things that will honor Christ, even if this brings opposition. Go on-line and look up information on the persecuted church. Then pray for Chris- tians around the world who are suffering for their faith. (One site is Voice of the Martyrs at www. persecution.com.)