Monday 07 September 2009

Bible Book:

] whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ." (1:28)

Colossians 1:24 – 2:15 Monday 7 September 2009


Paul writes this letter from prison to Christians in the smallcity of Colossae in modern-day southwestern Turkey. He issuffering; life is not comfortable for him; but Paul thinks hissuffering is worth it. He even rejoices in it (1:24). These versesreveal what put him in prison, and what made his suffering worthit.

If life is lived within a powerful empire, inserting its controlinto every corner, then challenging the empire is dangerous.Christians lived such dangerous lives under the Roman Empire, whichsaid that Caesar (the Roman Emperor) was Lord; that he was thesource of all prosperity; that he brought universal peace. ButChristians saw this wasn't true. They saw the violence, idolatry,and injustice of the empire. Teachers like Paul proclaimed analternative vision: that Jesus was Lord, bringing peace and life toall people.

Paul often ended up on the wrong side of authority because hechallenged the empire (even though he himself was a Roman citizen- Acts22:25-29). Instead of wholeness being found in Caesar, hetaught the wholeness of all things in Christ. The empire couldn'tdraw everything together in a pattern which made sense - Jesuscould. This teaching is the mystery which has been hidden for ages,but is now shown (1:26).

In our world we are often told that there is nothing which canunite all the powers of the world: from human fears and desires, tothe powers of nations and multi-national companies, to culturalvisions which divide and discriminate. The letter to the Colossiansbegs to differ. Christ brings everything together in a singlenarrative. He makes sense of life, and sums up everything we areand can be as human beings.

But there is danger in such a complete picture of meaning. It canbe used to create other violent empires, as destructive anddangerous as Rome. The difference with this picture is that itcomes from a place of suffering and weakness. The suffering of Paulechoes the suffering of Jesus (1:24 and 2:14-15). The lordship ofChrist can only be known through loving action in the face ofsuffering.

To Ponder

What makes the difference between sufferingswhich have meaning, and suffering which grinds us down?

What 'empires' rule our lives today? Which mightbe challenged by the claim that 'Jesus is Lord'?

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