Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful: 1, 2, 3

I started studying Colossians again yesterday morning, and was quickly stopped in my tracks. Within the first five verses, I was arrested by Paul's words, which are God's words.
Bible Study
Following the greeting, Paul (as is typical) launches into a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the people to whom he is writing. Paul has never met the Christians at Colossae; has never visited the city; and yet he is thankful for three interconnected reasons - a triumvirate of thanksgiving - three reasons to be cheerful:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. (Colossians 1:4-5)

Did you catch that? Faith, hope, love. This fledgling church is abounding in faith, hope and love, and it's getting noticed and talked about.

Their faith is in Christ Jesus - he is the object, the ground of their faith. Reason to be thankful, number 1.

They have love for all the saints - for other Christians. This isn't something that comes naturally or easily, yet it comes on conversion and grows as believers unite. Reason to be thankful, number 2.

But the one that seems to be driving the other two, their faith and their love, is the third element - 'because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.' Paul isn't speaking about their hopefulness, rather, he's talking about the certain, unshakable hope that comes through the promises of the faithful God - their future is guaranteed, and because they have grasped this, they have faith in Christ Jesus and they are being transformed to live a life of love.

I was arrested because I was challenged as to what it is we give thanks for these days. Are we captivated by numbers - just bums on seats? Are we poring over the offering plate to see if collections are up? Or are we looking for, and thankful for faith, hope and love? Offerings and attendances may be indications of an increase in faith, hope and love, but at the same time it may not!

If it's what we're looking for and thankful for, are we also working towards these things?

What are the things our local church is famous for - how are we being talked about in the community? What are the things we will give thanks for as we approach another Sunday, and as we reflect on our time together on Sunday morning?

May it always be faith in Christ, love for all the saints, because of this sure hope.

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