For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. -Colossians 1:4-5
I have been reading the book of Colossians the last week or so and find myself jotting down a lot of comments, questions, and aha moments. I plan on hanging out in Colossians for the remainder of the year. I would love it if you would join me :).
A quick background on the book of Colossians. It was written by Paul, the apostle previously known as Saul- the infamous, Christian persecuting, Jewish rabbi in training, who was radically changed by an encounter with Jesus (life changer :).
The letter was written in AD 60 to a small home church in Colosse. Colosse is located about one hundred miles inland from Ephesus (think book of Ephesians). It was a small, second rate town, but it was also an important town as it fell along a trade route, making it a meeting point of the West and the East.
Why am I boring you with these details? As we move further into Colossians we will see that this small home church was facing many of the same problems our church is today. Their faith was tainted by things such as religion, tradition, and Eastern influences (sound familiar?) They had wandered from the pure truth of the gospel and adopted ideas and practices that are not part of the Good News.
Despite these troubles, they did a lot of things well. As we see in today’s verse, they were known for their love of Christ, and for each other. The scriptures tell us The whole law can be summed up as love your neighbor as yourself, and, only three things remain, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. With these scriptures in mind I believe that if the church is only going to get one thing right, it should be to get their love for Christ and for each other in order.
When I look at the church today, I do not think we have our love in order. I think we have great music. I think we are entertaining. I think we have great buildings, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and other “Jesus swag”. I think we do good things and are generous with our money and resources. However, I am not sure we have love.
Though we may have love for Jesus (many lukewarm lovers out there), we definitely do not have on fire love for Jesus and devoted love for all of God’s people as the Colossians did.
Now please don’t go getting offended or defensive. I know none of you Girls are lukewarm for Jesus :). I am not really even talking about individuals, or individual churches. I am talking about the Church as a whole.
Growing up we used to sing a song that says “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
I wonder if today we are known by our love. Is the church, to “outsiders”, known for it’s love, goodness, kindness, and compassion? Or, are we known for our judgmental, harsh, self-righteousness? Are we known for our unity and love for one another? Or, are we known for our inter-denominational squabbles?
I may not be able to change the entire Church, but I can change myself. It’s not that I think I am unkind or judgmental (I sure hope I am not anyway), but I do know I am quick to get frustrated and even give up on people. I know I struggle with a “God helps those who help themselves” mentality (which is not scriptural by the way).
This year, instead of worrying about doing more, I want to purpose to love more. Just like the old song says, they will know I’m a Christian by my love…
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your fierce love for us. Please help us, your Church, to truly love others. Let us be known for our love. Use us to show the lost and the hurting the love you have for them. Use us to be a light and a blessing in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Love, Love, and More Love to Be Shown To All,