16 October 2014Colossians 1:24-29
“It is he [Christ] whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.” (vv. 28-29)
If you are a member of a church reading this, you may (or may not) find it difficult to believe that there are many people in the world who think of churches as being only for the chosen few. They believe faith is outdated; hymns and preaching are irrelevant; and God may exist, but doesn't have anything to do with them. Two thousand years ago things were not much different. As far as the Jews were concerned God belonged to them. All 'outsiders', except a few converts, were Gentiles (non Jews), excluded from the true faith - until Jesus came and showed that in God's sight there was an equal welcome for Jew and Gentile: one factor that contributed to his persecution and death.
This is the good news that Paul rejoices in preaching, here to the Colossians and in every place he could reach on his journeys. It may not have been good news to the Jews in Colosse, who still wanted to retain their exclusive rights to God. Neither would it please the Gnostic believers, who felt that only people with special knowledge could find their way to God. But Paul is clearly stating that the true gospel is good news for everyone. Gentiles are not excluded because they have never been Jews and no special code word, or intellect is necessary.
What is more, Paul recognises that the problems he faces as he preaches that gospel are clearly linked to the sufferings of Christ. So no matter how much of a struggle it is and how much energy he uses, he is carrying on the work that God has called him to do to build up the body of the Church. To Paul, the most important thing is that the glorious good news of the word of God is passed on to as many people as possible. It has been a mystery for far too long and the vital task of the Church is to reach out to everyone, but particularly to those who have never had the chance to understand it before. A word in time?
- How do you react when someone asks you why you believe in God? And what do you say to them?
- If the Church is viewed as being 'only for the chosen few', how do you think that view could be changed?