“We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, 5 which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
7 You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. 8 He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.”
First of all, I have to confess that today, I have brought you today’s reading from the New Living version, rather than the usual NIV. Sometimes, we read a passage and the structure of the sentences make understanding the passage trickier than perhaps is helpful. So, I thought it would be good to keep things simple today.
Can you imagine how delighted the Colossian church must have been to receive this letter from Paul. Encouragement and praise fill these first few paragraphs. Because Paul was so rooted in Christ and held truth to be vitally important, any recipient of his letters would know that Paul meant what he said. His words of praise were not mere flattery.
The Colossian congregation were known for their faith in Christ and their love for their Christian brothers and sisters. They had wholeheartedly placed their trust in the Gospel and actively believed the promises God had made. Their lives were visibly transformed by the Gospel through the Holy Spirit. No wonder Paul was so encouraged by this church!
However, Paul does not confine himself to the Colossian church. He encourages them with the knowledge that just as they have been set free and changed by the Gospel, so too others around the world are experiencing the same transformation. It would have been very easy for the Colossian church to feel themselves isolated – a relatively small church surrounded by pagans and other religions. To hear that they were part of a global movement that was transforming lives around their known world must have encouraged them in all that they were doing.
At St John’s we are privileged to be linked with various mission partners around the world. We hear stories of incredible faith and answer to prayers in difficult and oftentimes dangerous situations. As well as being able to pray for fellow believers around the world, we can take heart that this is the same God who works in us and through us to transform the lives of those whom we meet.
Finally, we come to the last paragraph. The Colossian believers learned the Gospel from Epaphras and were transformed. We too have each heard the Gospel and come to faith because somebody shared this Good News with us. So this naturally leads us to the question: who will learn the Gospel from us? It is not enough to merely receive the Gospel and all its benefits. We must also share what we have received with our family, friends and neighbours.
The Gospel is ultimately the power of God for the salvation of everybody who believes. It has the power to transform lives both now and for all eternity. We are part of God’s plan and he wants us to join in sharing this Good News message.
Let us pray: Thank you God for Jesus, for all that he has done to set us free from sin and death. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who works in each and every one of us to transform us into the people you want us to be. We know that nothing in this world or even in the heavenly realm can stop You. Thank you that you want us to be part of your plan to redeem our friends and neighbours. Please fill our hearts with gratitude for all that you have done for us, so that we cannot but hep sharing Jesus with others. Amen