Colossians #1: Col
It has been a while
since we have studied a book in the Bible together, as we start this New Year,
we’re going to explore the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians. Be
encouraged to read through the four short chapters in the letter at least once
a week to let the Word of God richly dwell within. Colossae was located in modern day Turkey, it
was a hub of commerce, on a major trade route, famous for it manufacturing of a
dark red wool called colossinum. Colossae was eventually overshadowed by two
neighboring citied, Laodicea and Hierapolis.
By 400 AD the city was no more.
Paul wrote this letter in 60AD while he was a under house arrest in Rome
with all of Paul’s letters he writes to encourage the saints and correct false
teaching. With a letter we have the
answer to the question but we don’t have the question. Kinda like Jeopoardy. Paul doesn’t directly
address the false teachings but we can infer what those issues were, his
original readers certainily understood.
The suspect false teachings deal with keeping Jewish traditions,
asceticism, angel worship, discounting Jesus status, the secret knowledge
involved some form of gnosticism, and reliance on human wisdom and
traditions. So Paul’s primary reason for
writing is to combat heresy and call the folks in this congregation back to
living a holy life.
Paul did not start
the church in Colossae. A convert of Paul’s
by the name of Epaphras was the church planter. Again the inference is that
Epaphras visited Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome and brought Paul
news of the challenges facing the congregation. You can expect that the issues dealt with in
the letter a couple of millennia ago are still relevant today. Let’s begin our exploration.
Col 1:1-5 (MSG)
I, Paul, have been
sent on special assignment by Christ as part of God's master plan. Together with
my friend Timothy, 2 I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ
who live in Colosse. May everything good from God our Father be yours!
3 Our prayers for
you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can't quit thanking God our
Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! 4 We keep getting reports on your steady
faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all
Christians. 5 The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied
as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.
Paul reminds his
readers of his apostleship. A onetime persecutor of the faith, he has an
encounter with a risen Jesus and that encounter totally changed his life, from
persecutor to proclaimer. He is
thoroughly convinced that Jesus assigned him that task of presenting God’s
master plan to the world. Most likely as
with his letter to the Galatians there were those who tried to discredit Paul
by saying his ministry was not legitimate.
God’s master plan,
the one that supersedes the faith that Paul grew up and excelled in, was that
the sacrificial death of Jesus made atonement for sin that everyone who so
desired could be reconciled to God through faith. The religious system that Paul was enmeshed
with was based on works righteousness. In order to be right with God one had to
keep the Law. Paul rejected this idea
and taught that it is not what we do that puts us in right standing with God,
but rather what God has done for us in Jesus that reconciles our relationship
If you’ve been
trying to be a good person, doing good things, following the rules of the
congregation you attend thinking that these behaviors make you acceptable to
God, that these good works are the ticket to heaven, you’re mistaken.
Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
For it is by grace
you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the
gift of God…
Salvation is not
earned it is a gift. The gift has been given. To take possession of the gift
requires an acknowledgement of the sin in your life. Sin separates, it deters, damages, and even
destroys healthy relationships. The
result of sin is self-rule. That may
sound good, “self-rule,” but it is an autonomy without wisdom, without
guidance. “Self-rule” is life by trial and error. Consider the relationships in your life. Everything rises and falls on
relationships. Are there relationships
that are messed up, estranged, where once two walked together, now they won’t
even make eye contact? If so, this is an
example of sin. Sin is falling to do for
others how you yourself want to be treated. Sin makes us self-centered, we do
what we want, when we want, and it doesn’t matter what happens as long as we
get what we want. To take possession of
God’s gift, you have to see this sin in your life and reject it.
1 John 1:9 (MSG)
“…if we admit our
sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to
himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”
The way you receive
God’s gift is by believing that Jesus took upon Himself all the hurt sin has
caused, the hurt that you caused, the evil that you did, the good you failed to
do and made an atonement. Jesus took your
place, took what you deserved upon Himself, so that you can be forgiven.
2 Corinthians 5:21
In Christ. God put
the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with
God’s master plan
does not stop with you acknowledgement and belief. You must make a commitment. You must bend the knee to God will, God’s
way, God’s leadership. This commitment
involves you surrendering your “self-rule” in exchange for God’s rule. This commitment is life-long as you learn how
to live for Jesus who gave His life for you. You are committing yourself to be
a disciple of Jesus.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)
[Jesus said:] "If
anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and
sin that has separated you from right relationships, Believe that Jesus can
forgive you of your sin and reconcile your relationships, Commit your life to
discipleship and then ask God to save you.
Acts 2:21 (NIV)
calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…”
This is God master
plan for humanity; reconciliation of estranged relationships, your relationship
to God, to others, with yourself, and the earth made right. Paul is spreading
this good news everywhere he goes.
With Paul at this
time is his young protégé Timothy. There
is a lesson within the lesson, Christians don’t go it alone. Do you have spiritual partner? Is there another believer in your life that
you can confide in? One who encourages
you in your commitment to follow Jesus? If
you do not, ask God to bring such a person in your life. Two are stronger than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Paul needed faithful companions to do all
that God empowered him to do. So do you.
extends a blessing, that his readers would posses every good thing that God
bestows upon those who believe. Those
good things include your salvation, your transformation into the person God
created you to be (2 Corinthians 3:18) we call that sanctification, and living
your life to the full (John 10:10).
Those good things include a task with the power to accomplish what God
has called you to do. Those good things include a community, a family, to
thrive in. Those good things include being an overcomer, you see God doesn’t
remove obstacles from your path God makes ways for you to conquer those
obstacles. No easy street, no rose gardens, but an epic adventure to be lived.
Those are just some of the good things God bestows. Paul wants his readers to
have these good things, his letter contains guidelines for living in these good
Paul praises the
congregation for their demonstrated love. Love is the foundation of God’s
master plan. “Love, love, love, love is
all you need” a lyric so close to the truth.
Love comes in many forms. One
form is obedience to God desires for your life, it’s bending your knee to God.
One form is meeting the need of another at the cost of a personal sacrifice
it’s keeping that commitment you made.
Another form is being a good steward, manager, caregiver, for the
material blessings that you have access to.
Another form of love is partnering with God in self-surrender to grow
spiritually deep, to grow spiritually up, and to grow spiritual fruit. In Colossae
there is such a community of people.
That encourages us to be such a community, a people who love not just
each other, but the stranger, outsider, the marginalized, the disenfranchised. Yes, even those who don’t share our opinions
or practices, our values or common sense. It is love that saved you from a dead
end way of life, it is love that renewed you to live life to the full, it is
love that is to overflow out of your life to all others. God has put this love in your heart, you must
choose to let it out.
Paul commends the
congregation for their love especially towards all Christians. Hey, have you ever meet any Christians? Some of them are hard to love. Yet we are empowered to lift burdens even as
we carry our own loads, yet we are empowered with long suffering enabling us to
put up with all kinds of immature shenanigans.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being we only love the folks we know well
and 10 being we embrace every one that comes through our doors, where would you
score our congregation? How do you think that visitor might rate you?
Love is getting
alongside all kinds of people and letting them see Christ through you. Open arms, open hearts, open lives are
inviting. Are you inviting?
Paul continues his
prayer in verse 5 “The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly
tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.” Part of living God’s master plan is learning
how to live your life to the full. Part
of living life to the full is living with meaning and purpose. What’s your purpose in God’s master plan? For me it’s to preach and teach the
plan. How about you? When
2011 hit, I felt that I should quit preaching and teaching, but what kept me
true to my task was hope. Hope that came
from experiencing God as good, God as faithful, God as trustworthy and what was
hoped for, one day, even if I have to wait for a heavenly day, everything being
made alright in Christ. Hope comes from
faith and confident trust in God. Even
when my trust waivered; God did not let go.
I was kept on course. Hope in
God gave me power to cope. What about
you? Do you know what your part is in
God’s master plan? That’s where you’ll find your meaning and purpose, your passion,
which will keep you keeping on in the most difficult of circumstances because
you expect to be an overcomer. Just on
the other side of the storm there is a future. Hope keeps you on course towards
the best things.
We’ve learned to be
a participant in God’s master plan we must surrender self-rule. We must bend the knee by acknowledging,
believing, committing and asking. One
doesn’t earn God’s salvation, God gives salvation to those who ask.
We’ve learned that
we need a faithful companion. The spiritual journey is no a solo journey. You need spiritual friends, who help, who
encourage, who labor with you. Be that spiritual friend. Find that spiritual friend.
We’ve learned that
love is the foundation of God’s master plan and love is to be the
distinguishing characteristic of every participant in God’s plan.
We’ve learned that
hope in the glorious ending of God’s master plan keeps us keeping on.
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