Yesterday we finished our journey through the book of Habbakuk and we are now turning our attention to Paul’s letter to the Colossians for the summer.
Before we dive in, I thought it would be helpful to share a few facts about this book to help orientate us.
- Paul wrote this letter to a small church in Colossae (in south west Turkey).
- The church was probably founded by his co-worker, Epaphras.
- The church was beset by a group called the Gnostics. Gnostics claim that they possess privileged, supernatural knowledge which they believe is essential for salvation, apart from and in addition to the Gospel.
- Today, typical gnostic beliefs would include “there is more than one path to God” and “we are all gods, or have god within us”.
- Paul wrote this letter primarily to warn the church of the false teachings and subtle arguments, which would undermine their faith. He also wanted to ensure the church understood Jesus’ deity and authority and how that would impact their everyday lives.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
Let me start with a question: “Who are you?”
There are many ways to answer that question. We often answer by what we do. I could say any of the following: I am a wife, a mother, grandmother, Christian, warehouse manager. Who we say we are determines not only how others see us, but also how we see and think of ourselves.
There is also the narrative that runs through our head when we look in the mirror – I am too fat, too thin, too lazy, too shy, too loud, unlikeable, unlovable, un- this, un-that. Fill in your own blanks.
All of these things contribute to the person we present to others.
However, Paul knew who he was. He introduced himself in this letter as an apostle of Christ Jesus. An apostle is rather like an ambassador. He represents the Kingdom of God to those around him. He shows others how people in God’s kingdom think, act and speak. He paints a picture of the king, namely Jesus and he shows others how they too can become part of God’s kingdom.
Importantly, we read that Paul was an apostle “by the will of God”. God commissioned him to do all of this.
So my question remains: “Who are you? Who did God commission you to be?”
We are often told today that as Christians, we are children of God. This is indeed true. 1 John 3:1 reminds us: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”.
However, we are also adult children. God expects us to grow from spiritual babies, when we first become Christians, into fully functioning Christian adults, with all the rights and responsibilities that go with being an adult and a child of the most-high God. Paul re-iterates this theme in some of his other letters. (1 Corinthians 14:20, Galatians 4:1-3 and Ephesians 4:14). The writer of Hebrews also underlines the importance of growing in maturity:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
By knowing who we are in Christ, growing in wisdom and understanding of what the Bible teaches we are more likely to remain firm in our faith and not be deceived or drawn away by the subtle arguments and false teachings of others.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father as we think about who we are; would you please open our eyes to who you designed us to be. Please show us where we believe lies about ourselves and help us to discover the truth that you speak into us by your Holy Spirit. We want to be known and recognised as your children, as citizens of your eternal kingdom. Amen.
Tomorrow’s reading: Colossians 1:3-8.
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