As I said in my last blog post, I decided to use my Learning Project time studying the Bible but after considering the amount of time I actually have to devote to studying and learning for this project, I decided it would be best if I chose one book of the Bible to study rather than try to wander aimlessly through it in a rushed manner. How did I go about choosing which book to study, you may ask. Well, it was actually very random. A friend of mine gave me a study guide for Colossians some time ago and I haven’t taken the time to sit down and make use of the guide, so here I am.
First of all, I think in order to begin our study with an open mind we need to look at the author and who he was. The book of Colossians is actually a letter written by the apostle, Paul to the church of Colossae. Now, Paul wasn’t always a Christian, nor was he always kind-hearted. Paul was a Pharisee and learned the tent-making trade in his young adult life. As a Pharisee, Paul was involved in persecuting Christians, including taking part in the stoning of Stephen. However, Paul crossed paths with Jesus Christ one day and from that day forward he was convicted to follow Christ and spread His word and teachings to others. Throughout his lifetime, Paul went on three different missionary journeys and was an obedient servant of Christ. The word apostle means chosen, which shows that Paul was chosen by God specifically to share the Good News of Christ.
In addition to understanding who Paul was, I think it is equally important to know more about Colossae and its location and why the letter was written to the church there. Colossae was a small town at a crossroad near the towns of Laodicea and Ephesus and is on a major trade route in this area. Paul’s letter to the Colossians was intended to repudiate many false teachings about Christ that had started to affect Christian believers in Colossae.
Paul begins his letter by announcing himself and Timothy (another apostle), then by addressing those of the church in Colossae as “brothers in Christ”, and ends the greeting by making known that his words were of God. Paul then gives a “shout out” to Colossae for their faith in God, love for God and others, and their hope in God’s works. However, if you read between the lines here, Paul never brings up the Colossians knowledge in order to purposely remind us that knowledge without faith in Jesus can be dangerous and that salvation can only be gained through faith and not through acts. Next, Paul talks about our security in heaven as believers (1:5). He wants us to understand that no matter how many times we may go astray, no matter what we do, once we are washed in the blood of Jesus, we are saved eternally. Paul talks about this quite a bit due to the fact that the Colossians were under the delusion that their acts would somehow save them from damnation. According to Paul, new believers aren’t just given new knowledge through Christ but we are changed by that new knowledge. We need to make sure that the gospel of Jesus shines through us to others through our words and actions.
The Bible tells us that faith, hope, and love are three of the most important tools in Christianity, but what is love?? According to Paul, love is a verb, not just a feeling. We must learn to love others as Jesus loves us. We must use our knowledge of God and His love for us in order to make a positive difference in our world. As a future teacher, I can imagine using this as a basis for how I would like my students to behave. Regardless of how someone treats us we should treat them how we would want to be treated or better yet, how we think Jesus Christ might treat us. So, maybe Mr. Brown was rude and disrespectful. Do we honestly believe that his attitude or behavior will change if we are rude and disrespectful in return? Perhaps if we smile and act graciously, Mr. Brown may be shocked and go home thinking to himself that maybe he should attempt to be a little more kind the next time. How else can we show love to those who treat us poorly? Paul tells us that we should pray for those people. He even gives us 8 steps to praying for them.
1) We should pray that they comprehend the wisdom of God.
2) We should ask that they gain spiritual wisdom.
3) We should ask that they bring pleasure and honor to God.
4) We should pray that they are successful.
5) We should pray that they continue learning about God.
6) We should ask that they gain God-given fortitude.
7) We should ask that they have stamina and tolerance.
8) We should pray that they be filled with the joy of Christ.
9) We should ask that they remain thankful.
Paul also outlines the benefits we gain as believers:
1) We can share His love and mercy with others.
2) We are free from Satan’s threats and eternal damnation.
3) We have eternal salvation and a place in God’s Kingdom.
4) We are free from sin as well as from judgement.
5) Our sins are forgiven.
Paul does remind us that although we have been given this wonderful gift, we should be willing to make sure our behavior shows who we serve with pride. Not only do we serve Jesus, the prophet, we serve Jesus, our God. (1:15-16). This passage clearly says that Jesus IS God, not just man, not just preacher. He reigns over the earth so we should always put Christ in the forefront of all our thoughts and actions. In accordance with this, we must remember that we are called to warn and teach others! It is the duty of Christians to warn others of false teachings, beliefs, and practices and to teach them God’s truths.
Until next time…