Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.
To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—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 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. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[d] behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
As I begin a series of devotional comments on Colossians I want to draw our attention to just two things today.
First, Paul’s description of the of the church members at Colosse – Holy and faithful brothers in Christ (NIV) or the ‘saints and faithful brothers in Christ’ (ESV). Here we are given a standard to aspire to as members of the church in xxxxx (put your own place here). Holiness/Saintliness are characteristics that are seen as unrealistic or overly pietistic today and yet they are the characteristics of those who are ‘in Christ’.
As I read these words, I look at my own life and the lives of many who call themselves Christians and I am forced to reflect how we too easily conform to the world’s standards rather than living lives that confront them. I write this on Easter Monday just 24 hours since we were excitedly celebrated the Resurrection but have to ask how long that thrill will last before the humdrum business of everyday living causes us to forget what God has done for us and what it means to be ‘in Christ’. If all God’s people were to live to that standard the world would surely sit up and take notice. But when we are often indistinguishable from the world what is there of which to take notice?
Boris Johnson in his Easter Message quoted Jesus’ words in John 14 v.6 ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ but he failed to continue with ‘No one comes to the Father except through me.’ He thus denuded the statement of virtually all meaning before focussing on good public-spirited deeds. Sadly the real meaning of holiness escapes him and the majority go along with him in this. We as believers should be challenging the world with holy and faithful living.
The second thing is the starting point of Paul’s prayers for fellow believers – He thanks God because of the Colossian’s faith in Christ Jesus and their love for all God’s people. Tomorrow we will explore the seedbed of this faith and love but today just to let the challenge hit us as to how we pray for our fellow believers. Do we pray for our fellow believers? Yes often when they are ill or have problems or a struggling but do we thank God for them? And the corollary of this is ‘Am I living in such a way that my fellow believers want to thank God for me?
Hard and searching questions are they not? Let’s examine ourselves and let out status of being ‘in Christ’ show itself to the world.