I’ve been reading through Paul’s letters in the New Testament with several friends, and we just finished Philemon and Colossians, and let me tell you they were dealing with some issues.
Here’s the skinny. Epaphras started the church in Colossae after becoming a Christian under Paul’s teaching, and Philemon hosted the church in his home. At some point, Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, stole something and ran away….straight to Rome where he met Paul. Under Paul’s teaching, Onesimus repented of his thievery and decided to return to Philemon. Umm, that was a bold and brave move! Onesimus could have been prosecuted, and he had no guarantee how Philemon would respond.
So, if you are keeping up, we’re talking about repentance, forgiveness, acceptance, and flawed people.
But, wait. There’s more.
The people of Colossae were so influenced by their culture that they were beginning to combine ideas from other philosophies and religions into their Christians beliefs, and Epaphras didn’t know what to do. Like any good student, he sought out his mentor, Paul, in Rome. After Epaphras spilled the beans on the issues facing his church, Paul wrote letter to help disciple them.
So, if you’re keeping up, we’re also talking about false teachings, ungodly living, ignoring God’s Lordship, and lack of integrity.
I don’t know about you, but it all sounds pretty familiar to me. After all, I myself am a flawed person who struggles to repent and forgive. I sometimes seek acceptance where I shouldn’t. I’m tempted to fall for lies, to choose ungodly behavior, to ignore God’s Lordship, and to lack integrity.
What about you?
Here’s the good part. The Colossians were flawed, but God loved them anyway. As a matter of fact, He loved them so much He gave them a pastor who was committed to their spiritual growth….even if it meant traveling far away to get help. God loved them so much He prompted Paul to write to them with words of encouragement and correction. God loved them so much He gave them the Holy Spirit to lead them in the right direction.
I don’t know about you, but that all sounds pretty familiar, too. I’m flawed, but God loves me anyway. He’s provided me with the Body of Christ – the church – to encourage my spiritual growth. He’s given me dear friends who inspire, motivate, and encourage me. He’s given me His Word to reveal Himself and His ways to me so I can understand Him better. And, He’s given me His Holy Spirit to guide me along the way. He loves me well.
What about you? I bet you could say the same. After all, our God is loving and gracious and unrelenting. He doesn’t give up on flawed people. Never has. Never will.
Maybe today you needed to hear that. If so, maybe God just showed you a little more love by sending this post to YOU.