TODAY’S READING: COLOSSIANS 1-4
The preeminence of Christ (chapter 1); four warnings (chapter 2); putting off and putting on (chapter 3); real relationships(chapter 4).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Our Lord dictated a letter to the Apostle John addressed to the church of the Laodiceans in approximately 96 A.D. giving them one of the most stern condemnations found in the Word of God. The rebuke is found in Revelation 3:14-22. This church actually made the Lord Jesus Christ want to throw up (Rev. 3:16). Within our Lord’s sharp words we find the phrase “and knowest not.” Not only did the church at Laodicea fail to measure up to God’s standard, they weren’t even aware they had any problems, and actually felt like they were exactly what they needed to be. You have to wonder how many churches in America today feel that they are doing just fine, when in reality, they, like the Laodiceans, are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”? How many individuals have deceived themselves into believing that they are living the “Christian life”, when in reality they need to cleanse themselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God !
(II Cor. 7:1).
More than 30 years earlier God had sent a letter to this church in Laodicea. In 62 A.D., the Apostle Paul wrote four letters from a Roman prison (Ephesians, Philippians, Philemon, Colossians). The letter to the Colossians was to be carried by Tychicus and Onesimus (4:7-9). Within this letter we find the key to preventing Laodicean Christianity. The church in Colossae was instructed to have their letter read to the church in Laodicea. It is obvious that though the church at Laodicea may have read the letter, they certainly did not heed the warnings contained in it. Within 35 years the Laodiceans would come to represent an arrogant church that had literally locked Jesus outside (Rev. 3:20).
Every church is one generation from becoming lukewarm. However, those who heed Paul’s instruction to the Colossians will find Christ preeminent within their congregation (1:18), rather than knocking on the door from the outside (Rev. 3:20).
In chapter 1, Paul begins his letter by commending the Colossians on their faith and love (1:4). We live in a day when many churches are known for buildings and programs. However, it should be faith and love that defines our reputation. Upon hearing of this love, Paul prays. In verses 9-12, he gives a prayer that any believer could pray for another believer. He prays for their:
*Mind (that they would have knowledge, wisdom, and understanding).
*Feet (that whey would walk worthy of the Lord).
*Muscles (that they would be strengthened spiritually).
*Hearts (that they would be thankful).
This is a prayer that every parent should pray for their children. It is a prayer that we can pray for each other within the body of Christ.
Paul then turns his attention to Christ. Colossians 1:13-29 contains the theme and foundation of the letter. It is Christ alone Who should come first (have preeminence) in everything (1:18). The church of Laodicea focuses on themselves (or their rights). It is only when we focus on Christ and understand Who He is that we find our purpose in life. Paul ends the chapter by revealing an awesome mystery to the Colossians. This preeminent Christ now dwells in them (1:27)! The physical temple of Christ’s body had been destroyed. However, through His death God has raised up temples all over this earth. Each temple containing the resurrected Christ and demonstrating God’s glory to the world.
Chapter 2 contains four warnings to the Colossians (2:4, 8,16,18). It will be the world’s philosophy (love of knowledge) and legalism (a system that finds God’s favor in human merit) that will cause a church to stop focusing on Christ. Paul tells these believers that they are complete in Christ alone (2:10) and instructs them to walk in faith (2:6-7).
The failure of Laodicean Christianity isn’t that we DENY Christ, but that we DE-EMPHASIZE Him! The enemy wants us to believe that Christ is insufficient, and we are in need of philosophy, religion, psychology, etc. In Chapter 2 Paul is warning believers not to fall prey to this deception.
Paul deals with how to practically walk in faith in chapter 3. The believer is commanded to set his affection on things above, and to then put off the old man with his deeds (3:1-10). He is then commanded to renew his mind (3:10), and put on the new man, which is Christ (3:15). This is the process by which a believer is to continually live. After talking about our relationship with the Lord in 3:1-17, our relationship with those within our family in 3:18-21, our relationship with those with whom we work in 3:22-4:1, in 4:2-6 he talks about our relationship with the lost world, and then in 4:7-18 he talks about our relationship with those within the body of Christ. If you run that through your mind, you’ll find that that covers every relationship we have in life! The whole point is, now that we’ve been risen with Christ (i.e. have been saved), the Lord Jesus Christ is to have preeminence in every relationship in our lives. Does He in yours?