Text: Colossians 1:1-2, Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:1, 1 John 3:1-2
There’s a monster in my closet named Anxiety. He’s been hanging around for about five years now, long enough that his presence no longer surprises me but not quite long enough for me to predict exactly when he’ll burst out the door, let alone what it will take to put him back in.
He appeared a few days ago when my husband and I were talking about a big, vague possibility that tore my stomach in knots for reasons I couldn’t quite identify. Anxiety kicked open the closet door and came out roaring, taunting me and tossing out lies faster than I could dodge them. My husband started taking aim at those lie grenades, knocking them out of the sky, one by one. He told me true things until I started to hear them, and eventually, Anxiety went sulking back to his closet and closed the door, defeated.
Lies are toxic. The only sure antidote is Truth.
The people in the newly-founded church at Colossae were under fire. They were a Christ-believing, gospel-professing people in a world that refuted the basic tenets of their faith. They worshipped God in a society that worshipped angels; they believed Jesus was the Son of God in a culture that believed all flesh and matter were evil. In the midst of a lie-shouting world, the church struggled to hold fast to faith and grow in the gospel. Sound familiar?
Paul, from prison, put pen to paper to speak truth into the hearts and minds of this church family he had never met, but nevertheless held close at heart. His letter to the Colossian believers is a gospel antidote—an injection of truth to counter the heresy that confronted them.
To catch Paul’s vision and heart for this short, heartfelt letter, let’s take a moment to digest the opening verses:
“To the saints in Christ at Colossae…”
Straightaway, Paul identifies his audience, and boldly so. The word “saints” is no haphazardly applied label— this is gospel truth! The believers at Colossae were holy and set apart before God in Christ Jesus. (And friends, if we are in Christ, this bold label applies to us too! See Romans 8:16-17.)
“…who are faithful brothers.”
As he often did, Paul used familial terms to reiterate his relationship to the men and women of the church, as well as their relationship to one another. The Body of Christ is created to live and serve with one another, modeling the gospel in how we love. [And don’t let the “brothers” throw you; Paul may have addressed his letter to the men in the room, but his sentiments applied to the women too! Remember how he appealed to Euodia and Syntyche in his letter to the Philippians (Phil. 4:2-3)? Our brother Paul was mindful of his sisters. We are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).]
“Grace to you…”
If anyone knows the boundlessness of grace, it was the apostle Paul (1 Timothy 1:15). Grace was the foundation of the Colossians’ faith—and it’s ours too. Paul consistently reminds us in his letters of this incredible truth: When it comes to grace, we can’t have too much, and we will always have enough.
“…and peace from God our Father.”
A prison cell is not the place you’d expect to find peace. Yet, Paul not only displayed peace, he prayed peace for his brothers and sisters. Paul knew the false teaching the Colossians were fighting, and he knew the fight was not easy. But he also knew where true peace comes from (John 14:27). As he begins this letter of bold truth and unabashed gospel teaching, Paul sends “peace from God our Father,” demonstrating his sincere love for his fellow believers.
As we prepare to read this letter together over the course of the next two weeks, let’s join Paul in pushing back the lies by giving thanks for what is true. Let’s give thanks to God for our fully undeserved, yet fully secure, standing in Christ Jesus, and for our place in this broad, beautiful family of faith. Let’s remember God’s grace, accepting a fresh dose of it anew and resting in the peace that is ours from God our Father.
Let’s ask the Lord to prepare our hearts to hear the good news of the gospel once again. It is the truth that defeats all the lies, the only antidote for our ailing souls.