As we begin a new year and a new era of leadership, we have been discussing the vision. We are talking about things to come, things unseen. This was the same position Paul was in when he wrote Colossians. He had never visited the church in Colossae and since he was writing from prison, from which he was eventually executed, we know (and it sounds like he knew) that he wasn’t going to. So, as we explore what Paul wanted to impart to future members of the church, let us remember that the Bible is living and active and written for us.
The church in Colossae was a young church in a world where there were natural disasters (droughts/storms), superpowers (Roman Empire) and competing world views (all the different religions and temples).
This is a scenario that we recognise from the news. As we negotiate the “new normal” let us look afresh at Paul’s letter, as generations of believers have before us. This may have been written long ago but it will help us grow! Paul urges believers to seek maturity in Christ and Godly wisdom over anything the world offers:
- Not to be taken in by other belief systems (2:4);
- Not to put culture above Christ (2:8);
- Not to judge others or ourselves over traditions (2:16-18); but, hold fast to Jesus (2:19).
Paul writes here with clarity (“for this reason” 1:9-12) about what a life with Jesus (a consistent journey through our life, God’s way, before we go to be with Him) looks like. He is urging us onwards! Even if we’ve been a Christian for a long time, we never stop growing and learning and sometimes we can wander away from the wonder of how God welcomed us into His family in the first place. As we come through years of intense pressure, let us make sure that Jesus is where He belongs: Number one.
Let’s also consider what you would say to a friend of a friend, who was planning on joining us from a distant land. What vital information would you send them to make sure that we were in agreement and to prevent culture shock? When people first come to church, it can feel like a different country, because spiritually, it is! Paul’s letter to the Colossians sets things out for us to consider:
- The wonder of what God has done for us through Jesus.
- How only God could have done it.
- That in Him, we are made new and different to the world, but are unified – no longer governed by the world’s labels.
- Walking with God means running our households, relationships and workplaces differently, imitating Jesus and developing His character.
- Lastly, we are to treat those outside the church with grace and kindness, as God treated us, so that we can bring them into a knowledge of Him.
CONNECT GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- What are some of the idioms/saying/mottos you have in your life apart from scripture? (eg. “With great power, comes great responsibility”; “Never, never, never give up”; “Carpe Diem”) What do you think Paul would think of them?
- Share if you’re comfortable, any lightbulb moments you’ve had over the years, that only Jesus saves.
- We recently celebrated Christmas, a time of awe and wonder. What part of being a believer fills you with awe and wonder?
- We often have symbols/reminders that Jesus is the most important (eg. Wearing a cross) but over time the connection can fade. How can we prompt ourselves to connect with Jesus more frequently during our day? (eg. phone reminders to pray or use the Bible App, praying in the car).
- Paul urges us to do “all for Him” (3:17). Is there something new that God is calling you to do in 2022, for Him?
- Consider Paul’s instructions on evangelism in Colossians 4:2-6. He urges us to pray and ask God for help on what to say to non-believers. Is this something you regularly do when you’re trying to reach someone? Has the Holy Spirit given you any advice on speaking to non-believers that could help others?
- What are some things you could say when someone you’ve invited uses worldly labels? (eg. “I can’t because I’m agnostic/Hindu…”)