17 October 2014Colossians 2:1-7
“For I want you to know how much I am struggling for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me face to face. 2I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself.” (vv. 1-2)
One person I would love to have met was Fred Pratt Green, hymn writer, poet, and a well-respected Methodist minister. His words have influenced my writing and the clarity of their message has spoken, at times, as if he was sitting with me and counselling me on a personal level. Paul's words in this passage must have had the same effect on the Colossian church.
At the time of writing, Paul was in prison in Rome and facing possible execution. Yet he still had such a care for people he had never met that his words were of advice, compassion and encouragement. His concern was that they should be following and learning from the true gospel, and his encouragement was for them to live courageously, faithfully, in unity and with hearts full of thankfulness.
There is also a word for the church in Laodicaea, one of the neighbouring towns to Colosse, and another church that Paul had never visited, yet is picturing in his mind's eye. He talks of struggling for these and other unknown Christians; and part of that struggle could well have been involved with his own mortality. He was anxious that these churches should grow in unity and purpose, but did he have the thought at the back of his mind that if he was executed for his faith, what effect would that have on these untested Christians?
He was also concerned that the Colossian church would not be led astray by false teaching and doctrine. The Gnostic influence on the church seems to be the one he was anxious about, as he writes about the treasures of wisdom hidden in Christ. The Gnostics believed that only specialist knowledge could bring reconciliation with God and that was a secret that only they held. Paul makes it clear that Christ is the true source of that wisdom and anyone can find their way to God through Christ.
Paul may never have visited the church in Colosse, but he did what he could to counsel and encourage them, and his words still leave their mark today.
- Is there a writer you would like to have met - and why?
- How did you feel when you had that experience of words 'leaping off the page' because they were so relevant to you, or heard a song or a speaker and believed their words were for you?
- Why do you think the ancient scriptures are still relevant today?