Colossians 4 (post 3 of 3)
Paul starts off his final greetings with two people who will personally be delivering his letter to the Colossians -- Tychicus and Onesimus. These two men will soon set off for the long 1,200+ mile (yes…1,200+ MILES…with no car, train, or plane) journey from Rome to Colossae. Do you think they have any idea of the significance of what they were carrying? Did they take extra caution to protect it from the elements during the journey? Could they have even imagined the impact this little letter would have? And not just for the Colossians, but for the millions who have read it since and will read it in the future. Amazing.
Paul continues his greeting with more fellow workers, and a peek into the team performing a mighty work of God. Each with different skills and purposes, and some not using them to the fullest at times.
As I look back over the team in Paul’s closing greeting, it is a beautiful compilation of people we could all hope to be and have in our lives, along with the sad reality of relationships that don’t pan out as we would have hoped.
Do you have real names associated with these people/characteristics? In which do you see yourself?
Two more short closing sentences hand-written by Paul… First, remember my chains. How would you want to be remembered? For Paul, it wasn’t his conversion count, the churches he planted, his beautifully written words. It was his chains. The length he would go to make the mystery of the gospel fully known. His joining of Christ in His suffering. It is a reminder of the sacrifice of following Jesus and making the gospel known. Paul counts it as a blessing, not something to be pitied. And finally, grace be with you. The sign off from Paul. Paul’s opening and closing blessings include grace. It is the essence of the gospel he loved and committed his life to.
The letter complete. Rolled up tightly and handed to Tychicus and Onesimus. Packed safely in their satchel with provisions for the long trip to Colossae. Possibly a few tears. Covered in prayer, no doubt.
In this day of instant communication via a multitude of channels, it is hard to grasp how special these letters are. They can’t just FaceTime Paul with a question, or shoot a quick text to Luke asking him for advice, or post a message on Demas’s Facebook account to encourage him to stick with the ministry. It was a slow process of penning a letter, hand delivering it hundreds -- even thousands -- of miles away, and then waiting for a word to travel back. But I imagine it brought a savoring and careful consideration and study of each and every word. Something that is lost in our time of information overload.
What seemingly hard or small or insignificant tasks are you currently engaged in? Could they possibly have an eternal significance that you just can’t see yet?
What friends do you have around you? Are they beloved and faithful? Do they stick by you and join you on this journey of life you are on? What kind of friend are you? Would you stay close in hard times and deliver the letter when asked?
God, help us see our tasks – big and small – through your eyes. Help us find the kind of friends and be the kind of friend that sticks with our friends and is willing to do what is needed to mutually build one another up to accomplish our God-sized callings.
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