I thought it best for me to follow a book of the Bible sequentially, so starting today each week I will be going through Colossians a small chunk at a time (warning: they may be a bit longer than usual, but not much).
“1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ…
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.”
Paul had never been to Colossae, but his good friend Epaphras was from there and had started the church through his own preaching. So Paul wrote from prison to encourage and strengthen them. He sends the letter back with Epaphras and Onesimus.
Onesimus: the letter we know now simply as Philemon was an additional personal letter for the man of that name whose slave, Onesimus, had run away from Philemon, straight into the arms of the Lord Jesus via His servant Paul. Now Paul returns him, not as a slave but as a brother in Christ.
Even from this distance Paul recognised on the Colossians the three tell-tale marks of those who have met the risen Lord Jesus: faith, hope and love.
Hope – knowing that whatever happens, no matter what life throws at us we are totally secure in the knowledge that we will one day wake up to a world of unimaginable bliss, of joy, knowing that no sin, worry, fear, regret, shame, pain, oppression, guilt or loneliness will ever enter our lives again.
Faith – the life of trust lived by people who have such a hope, who make their decisions and base their attitudes on their secure personal knowledge of Jesus who is utterly dependable.
Love – the evidence of a life lived in hope and faith. The people of this world live like desert travellers, jealously guarding meagre stores of precious love, always wanting more and eking out drops only to those deemed worthy. Believers, on the other hand, are like people living next to a thundering waterfall of love, happily sharing with those that lack.
Does that describe us? Can we be spotted as born-again at a distance? Can people tell even by second-hand report (or email) that we live lives soaked in hope, faith and love? My guess is that to some extent, yes.
If not, the problem may lie in our lack of HOPE. Have we forgotten what it is to know our future is entirely secure and that we will live forever in total joy?
PRAYER: Lord, make us like those living by waterfalls of love, knowing and believing that it will never run out. Help us just to live today in love knowing that our future is totally secure and nothing less than an eternity of joy awaits us who believe. Amen.