Today we begin reading the letter to the church at Colossae from Paul and Timothy. Many in the church were making their faith very private and esoteric, which in turn made it easy to adopt mysticism and asceticism into their spiritual practice and belief. A private faith, and a faith that relies on the self is a faith that can be easily warped by humanitarianism, various philosophies, and other worldly beliefs.
Paul begins his letter to the church with a prayer of thanksgiving and encouragement for them. Verses 4-5 read,
“since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,”
Sincere faith in Christ always manifests in love. Love is the fruit of the Spirit. God is Love. Love is not an empty feeling but is seen, heard, and experienced by those who receive it. The love and community we form with the brethren now is a shadow of the fullness we will experience one day in New Jerusalem. God is keeping it safe for us now as we practice it here on this earth.
That faith based on the truth of the Gospel is not a private or stagnant thing. It changes us. It changes others. It affects the world. Verse 6 says it this way.
“which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,”
The truth comes to us. The Holy Spirit allows us to hear it, understand it, and believe it. But we do not hold it covertly to ourselves. We live it overtly. Our lives testify to it. We display it by changing to the image of Christ. We reveal God by bearing the fruit, the traits of Christ, who is Love. And that is ever increasing. It increases day by day within us as we become more of Christ and less of us. He increases as our lives bare out the truth by our change and affect others to hear, understand, and believe the Gospel of Christ.
In order to mature, to become more like Christ through the transformation of the Holy Spirit, He continues to teach us. We get to know God more and more. Verses 9-10 read,
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
The knowledge, wisdom, and understanding we gain doesn’t stay hidden and private. It bears itself out in our walk. The more we know God and the more we know about Him, the more we want to know God and the more we want to please Him by loving others with good works.
We change when receive Christ. We are transformed when the Spirit enters us. We are revolutionized when the Father restores us to a relationship with Him. That change is not a private inner change but a public obvious total conversion. It reshapes us. It affects everyone around us. The transformation is not always easy but we are not alone. Often the revolution of our heart involves hardship and pain. But we are not alone through that suffering. And even the way we handle the tribulations we face have influence on the world. Even our travails are not meant to be kept secret. Verses 11-12 encourage us.
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light”
We can no longer live in the dark of the lies, idolatry, and worldly philosophies. We know there is no “your truth” or “my truth” but THE Truth. The Gospel is one gospel not many. Verses 13-14 read,
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Be careful that your relationship with God is not a private one. Intimacy with the Lord is important, but it is not meant to be experienced solely in the closet. Your relationship with God is meant to be lived out loud, all the time, be it in your closet, on the street, in the sanctuary, or in the workplace. Jesus Christ permeates your entire life. The Holy Spirit saturates every part of your being. The Father should be glorified by every aspect of who you are. God is enigmatic to many of the world but He is not a secret to be kept. He is a mystery to be unlocked. You are the key. Your witness reveals God to the world.