Colossians 4 (Post 1 of 3)
Paul’s prayer request while sitting in a Roman prison? Open doors to proclaim the gospel. The thing that got him in prison in the first place is the thing he is asking for prayers to be able to do more of. His blinding encounter with the risen Jesus not only changed his life, it changed his mission and passion.
Paul frequently uses the word mystery. Think about a mystery game or novel. Some unknown or unanswered thing is out there. Gradually and methodically clues are introduced. Some very telling and some a bit more hidden. Clues mount and more information is uncovered until the climax where the clues all come together and the mystery is revealed. This is how it is in the Bible. The Gospel was always there, but it was slowly presented and slowly unveiled. Paul was given a final clue to understand the mystery and begin, with the apostles who walked with Jesus, to declare it to the world. He takes this responsibility very seriously. As should we.
We are often so eager to share good news. Why aren’t we as eager to share THE good news; the Gospel? I think part of the problem is we don’t really know how. We aren’t sure how to approach it, what to say, or how to say it.
Paul says we should make It clear. Not using confusing Christianese, but rather plain, clear language. It is about walking with people and in relevant ways showing in words and actions the good news. I think the gradual revelation of the mystery is similar to the conversations that happen walking through open doors. It isn’t a theological doctrine dump, but rather the building of conversations over time. Slowly making the gospel known as the people in our circles see how we live and engage in conversation.
Jesus says of the kingdom of heaven is like a tiny mustard seed. Little seeds that are watered and take time to grow. It is little conversations and actions that pique interest, questions and more discussion over time. It is plain, clear speech in everyday life situations where doors are opened. Christ in us equips us for these conversations.
Paul is praying for open doors. He planted churches, he preached the Word to so many people in so many places who then planted churches. But now here he is in prison. Might he be thinking doors that were once open to him were now closed? What does he do with this time? He writes letters. Something he may not have had time to do if we were out planting more churches. I wonder what he thinks in heaven watching us today reading from one of the four letters he wrote from prison. These prison letters and the other nine he wrote make him the most influential writer of the best-selling book of all time. Oh, doors were open. He didn’t see it at the time, but the impact he had because of his passion, perseverance, and single-minded focus on Jesus regardless of his circumstances is mind blowing.
If like Paul, you feel all the doors around you are closed, let this encourage you that they are more open than you think. Be persistent. Keep praying. Do what God is telling you to do. Your obedience will have far more impact than you can see once God gets his hands on it.
But I suspect most of us recognize that there are open doors all around us, we just aren’t walking through them. We just need to take mustard-seed-yeast-size steps. If we really believed the news was as good as we say it is, we would want it to be told.
God, please give me vision to see, and then the courage and wisdom to walk through, the open doors you strategically have placed all around me. I know that it is you who does all the work. Give me words and actions that backed by your power can make the mystery of the gospel clearly known.
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