Welcome to Fridays foundations podcast. We have made it to the end of the week! Well done. It is going to be Liam Brennan sharing next week – so stay tuned. If you are a parent or carer – the little ones go back to school next week – praise the Lord! We do hope you have had a great half term. For the rest of us, the weekend is here! We hope you enjoy rest and Church on Sunday.
Now, there is a well known African proverb that goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. As we finish the book of Colossians, today I’d like us to think about friendship.
Over the last three weeks we got a sense that Paul was very fond of the church in Colosse. He has taken the time to think, pray & challenge the church into deeper levels of maturity. But in these closing words, we have an enlightening insight into the place Paul is writing from.
There are two things to pull out here.
- He is in prison (v10).
- He is part of an ever growing community. (almost every line).
Paul’s circumstances haven’t overwhelmed his priority to care for people. He is literally in chains! Yet his outward reality does not appear to dampen his inner conviction, that voice that affirms who we are & what we are about. Paul is clearly operating in a “new life” mentality. He must be! Clothed in the “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. I am deeply challenged by this. Here’s why; on paper Paul has failed. His mission to take the Gospel to the gentiles has been stopped. He is in prison. And yet, he doesn’t give up, he writes this letter! I think I may have convinced myself that this was not going to happen, that it was too hard, or I am not good enough. But he presses on.
Why? What was going on?
I’ll be honest, I don’t fully know. But I’ll take a guess. He was never alone. There are 8 people mentioned in these verses, BY NAME, people alongside him that Paul shares greetings from. Some are fellow prisoners, like Aristarchus. Others we know quite well, like Luke the doctor, the author of one of the gospels & Acts. This was a team of people who loved each other dearly. That “wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” (v12). Kind of like a midweek group, one of our clusters. Their missional-community was sharing the gospel with the gentiles. Ours might be different. But it’s clear we are not called to do it alone. We are a family on a mission together. Praying and standing firm in the battles. Rejoicing in the breakthroughs.
Finally, my last thought on where Paul is writing this letter from & on friendship. He knew Jesus really well.
And friendship is really important to Jesus.
One of the things he says: explaining what he was going to do when he dies.
He explains it through friendship: Tonight I no longer call you servants. I don’t want to hide anything from you. Tonight I lay my life down for my friends. (John 15).
When Jesus says this: suddenly the whole Christian world can be understood through friendship.
God was a friendship.
Jesus lost his friendship that we might find our friendship with God.
That beautiful gift of grace.
Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Thank you that we are invited into relationship with you. Thank you for that gift of grace. Spirit of God, remind us again who those people you have placed around us for encouragement – and those you have placed in our lives to encourage. Help us to form deep, lasting friendships that we may not simply go fast, but go far. For your Kingdom. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Colossians 4:10-18
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.