November 29, 2012

Colossians {Day 29}

We're gonna sprint to the finish today, folks, so there's time for a wrap-up post tomorrow, to round out this month in Colossians.

Colossinas 4:2-18
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Some observations about the end of this letter to the Colossians:

  1. It's very similar to the way Paul ends most of his letters: really rushed final instructions and greetings to and from specific individuals.
  2. The commentators both brought out that some of these folks Paul mentions are Jews and some are Gentiles.  He's intimately connected to believers from both backgrounds.
  3. Paul covets the prayers of the Colossians.  He asks them for prayer in the final instructions and also says Remember my chains in his good-bye.  The apostle needs fellow believers to pray for him!

This last chapter makes me think about two things: intimacy with fellow believers and prayer.  As I read the final greetings and the way Paul speaks of these men and women, it appears that he really loves and cares about them.  He knows their names, what they're up to, and commends them to the church in Colosse.  They're not just "staff" in his Gospel-sharing business; they're his brothers and sisters in Christ.  And even as he asks for prayer, you know that he prays earnestly for those from whom he seeks prayer as well.

Paul prayed and sought prayer because he believed it made a difference in his life and in the lives of others, enabling boldness and focus, opening doors for ministry opportunities, and offering hope.  You know, Jesus prayed too.  In prayer Jesus connected with the Father.  In prayer Paul did likewise.  In prayer, all of God's people have done the same for centuries.

I'm challenged by these final verses to pray for believers and churches in places I have lived, that their ministry there might be fruitful, that the Gospel would go forth, that the Lord would sustain them.  Further, I'm challenged to take relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ more seriously, to go deeper, because our bond is so much more than flesh and blood or common interests or even that we attend the same congregation.  We are united in Christ.

That's really amazing!  Paul never took it lightly, and neither should we.

*     *     *

G'night, brothers and sisters.  Tomorrow will be our final installment in the book of Colossians, then Advent is just around the corner!

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