Years ago, when Michael Jordan was still playing basketball, he appeared in a shoe commercial (Click the link above to view the thirty-second spot). But this time, instead of showing slam dunks and fist-pumping, it showed Jordan getting out of his car before a game, while he said the following in voice-over: “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” The point I took from the spot is that while he missed often, at least he took the shot. While he lost sometimes, at least he played the game. From the standpoint of Kingdom work, the real tragedy is not when we try something great for God and fail; it’s when we fail to try. How often do you and I have the ball in our hands with the clock ticking down…and we hold the ball, afraid to shoot, afraid to fail…until the buzzer sounds. We're afraid to engage someone who needs the Gospel, because we know it will be awkward and uncomfortable to talk about spiritual things. We ignore someone with serious physical or emotional needs because we just don't want to get involved. Or God brings someone into our orbit, and we don’t even think to see them as someone who needs the love of Christ. We're so caught up in our own stuff, we see them as simply people to deal with quickly so we can move on to the next item on our agenda.
We’ve been studying the book of Colossians for a month and a half now, and we’ve learned a lot about being holy; being different in a way that draws people to God. Now we are at the end of the letter. Paul just has his final greetings to specific people after this; what we’ll read this Sunday (4:2-6) is the last thing he says to the whole church. For his final word, Paul tells us to be careful so that we don’t miss those moments when God passes us the ball. Look at the second half of v. 5, making the most of the opportunity. The Greek literally says “redeeming the time.” He's talking about what some have called "divine appointments."
I like the way Henry Blackaby puts it in Experiencing God: Whenever you encounter someone who shows an interest in spiritual matters, drop whatever you are doing and spend as much time as necessary with that person. We are not spiritual creatures by nature, so if a person is interested in spiritual things, that means the Holy Spirit is working on them right now. God has just passed you the ball, and it’s your chance to do something wonderful. But what can we do in order to be ready for these moments, so we don’t miss these opportunities? That's what we'll talk about this Sunday.