The Greatest of These is Hope

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Colossians 1:3-8New King James Version (NKJV)

Their Faith in Christ

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,[a] as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.

My pastor said something last night that will stick with me for quite a while, ” We build a bridge for two reasons, you’re  building a bridge to get to their side and, never forget this, the whole purpose of getting to their side is to bring  them back with you.”

He was speaking in terms of relating to people. Not by giving up or damaging your witness but so that you can get to them and bring them back with you. So you can bring them to the truth of salvation. As we dive into the text for this week, the thought of reaching people, of reaching the lost, the backsliden, the damaged, and the hurting in the world weighs heavily on my heart.

Paul is writing this letter to the church in Colosse to deal with some serious issues that had come up within that body of believers. It is also important to remember that Paul had never been to this church in person . This was not a church that Paul planted. Rather, this church was planted by Epaphris whom scholars agree was most likely saved during Paul’s time planting the church in Ephesus.

In versus 3-8, Paul is building a bridge to a group of believers that he has never seen. He starts in verse 3 by telling them that he and Timothy, “give thanks,” to God for them (the church in Colosse), “praying for them always.” what an amazing statement. It speaks to Paul’s heart for fellow believers, Paul’s heart for the church as a whole, and Paul’s character as a follower of Christ. Paul loved them. He gave thanks fort a group of people he had never met, further he’s spent time, “always,” in prayer on their behalf. Is there anyone else reading this that is feeling a bit convicted? Or is it just me?

I say that because I am an arguer and I am competitive; that makes for a rough combination. In short, I like to win. To many times early in my walk with the Lord (and to many more times  in the last thirteen years)  when I found myself with the opportunity to share my faith with a non believer or come alongside a believer in crisis, I’d go into debate mode. Often having my argument prepped before the other person was done speaking, I’d let them have it! Bam! Zowe! and Crack! Just like the old Batman TV fights; I win! Then there was always that moment as I was basking in the glory of victory, looking into my opponents eyes, I would say, “oh yeah, Jesus loves you and so do I.” Let’s just say that when Bob Hokstra wrote the book, Speaking the Truth in Love, My approach was in the chapter entitled,  You’re Doing it Wrong. 

Paul tells the church that he loves them and spends time praying for them and then he tells them what he knows of their fellowship. Paul has heard of the faithfulness of this congregation of believers as well as their love for the, “saints,” the church at large. I wonder if that is a statement that could comfortably be made about us and our churches today? Are our churches known for their faith in love? Or, are we simply going through the motions , simply checking church off of the list for the week?

When we have an honest walk with Jesus, our love shows because we have hope. Every time I think about hope, more specifically the hope we have in Jesus, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

 “Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” —Unknown

It is the hope we have in Jesus that gives us our faith and our love. Christians look to the second coming of Jesus, Christians have a relationship with Him through prayer, fellowship, and the reading of His word.Christians know that when we leave this world, it is not the end but a beginning.  The hope in what is to come is what Paul is speaking of here. It is that hope that changes the way we as believers, look at death, handle funerals, and serve the world at large. Peter revels in this hope:

[ A Heavenly Inheritance ] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

This section comes to a close with a reminder that we are all given this hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul also recognizes the fruits that the Lord as brought forth in Colosse and gives a nod of encouragement to the pastor that planted the fellowship.

It always amazes me to hear the testimonies of lives changed by the gospel; lives changed by hope in Jesus. Through one moment of humility and acceptance we find ourselves doing things that were impossible and unconsidered previously.  From all the full-time missionaries that serve globally; to the group that is leaving my church this week to go on a short-term mission trip to Brazil; to the new believer who because of Jesus is able to put down the bottle and pick up a bible – set aside despair and discover hope! Give thanks for them all and pray for them always.

Until the Whole World Hears:

LD

*Next Week:

Verses 9-29 We will finish Chapter 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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