Hello and welcome to Tuesdays foundations podcasts. I’m James and we’re looking at the closing chapters of Colossians this week.
Colleagues before me have done a cracking job setting the scene of this book in the Bible, which is in fact a letter letter is written by Paul, from prison, to encourage this church and to challenge them to a greater devotion to Jesus. Despite the obvious challenge of being in prison… Paul writes these optimistic verses for us to consider today.
THEREFORE! [considering all that was mentioned yesterday about putting to death the old ways and life we had before meeting God.]
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Wonderful words. Timely words for us here in the UK. If you are listening in from further afield as we know some of you do. These virtues, especially kindness and love are being discussed publicly in a big way at the moment. Last week, a well known TV presenter, Caroline Flack, took her own life. Such sad news and many people have been deeply affected by it. It is in moments like these where the phrase “our thoughts and prayers are with” get passed around or broadcast from the news stations, but my observation is the mood is slightly different this time. The main story is celebrity culture is broken and we must do better in the way we talk to one another. Some have rushed to quickly prescribe blame and fault… particularly to tabloids. But interestingly there is a small but significant repentance in a lot of the headlines captured in the phrase “we must do better”.
The collective mood is that the system is broken and it is deeply affecting people. Let me explain that and we can look again at these timely words from Paul. There is such an expectation on individuals, especially celebrities, to live the perfect life. With great influence comes great responsibility, right? True. We should hold to account those who have high levels of influence in our society. But there is a frenzy in UK celebrity culture around the “big falls”. When someone is knocked from their pedestal. The bigger the fall and the bigger the scandal… the bigger the appetite the nation has to wade in. What this tragedy, and it is a tragedy when a life is taken, has shown us, is that harsh words are easy to share and tempting to read. The harder thing is to embody compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if [someone has offended. you]. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. These things don’t often make headlines. But these are the ways of Jesus and these are the habits we are being encouraged, by Paul to grow in.
The Colossians church was started by Epaphras. It was doing well but it was being tempted by cultural pressures. They could go with the flow of (what one commentary I read put it as) “mystical polytheism” – that Jesus was one of many gods. That we are to continue with the way our lives are and just have a bit of Jesus on the side. “Jesus and” something or “Jesus plus” something. But Paul does not leave that option open to us in this letter.
The challenge he brings to these followers, and the challenge to you and I today, is that this message of Jesus, the good news of his love, is that it changes our whole lives, inside out. Yesterday we mentioned that faith in Jesus, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, there is the power to transform our internal world, to give us a new heart. That good thing God starts on the inside eventually works itself outward to our lifestyle. WE CAN START WORKING ON THAT TODAY! The challenge is to live as the new humans we will one day become. A great place to start is to start practising kindness and love.
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Love that fuels our actions… is not only the key to starting to live like Jesus but the glue that holds all these Godly characteristics together. Start with love. We are to make space in our days to contemplate the love of God for us. We are to think of ways we can express our love back to God. With demonstrations of kindness, with heartfelt prayers of adoration, with offerings or sacrifices of praise. However the spirit leads, let love fuel our actions in response to his love for us. AND let love fuel our actions in love for one another.
For these truly are the greatest commandments. To love God and to love one another.
One of the last things Caroline Flack shared on social media was a quote that went like this: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”. There is something of Colossians in these words. Will kindness alone change the world? No, Jesus alone has the power to transform our broken world. But kindness is one of the practises of Jesus we are being called to practise today. It is one the world really needs to see embodied. Let us play our part where we can.
God we are sorry when we have been quick to speak and slow to show love and kindness. Please help us call to mind ways or people we can encourage today. Help us to gladly do your will and to point people towards you. In Jesus name, Amen.
BIBLE READING: Colossians 3:12-17
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.