March 5 – Strong Ties of Love

Colossians 2: 1 – 10 (New Living Translation NLT)

“I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.”

I wonder if the church at Colosse thought Paul was overdoing it when he said “I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally.” Our culture tends to emphasize independence – to stand strong on your own. Paul is talking about a bond between believers that is strong even though we have never met. The church is the body of Christ. Remember “Christ is also the head of the church which is his body”. (1: 18) We are joined together no matter where we live with the Holy Spirit living in us. I think we get a glimpse of that when we travel and meet Christians for the first time. There is a bond between us that doesn’t happen with just anyone. Sure, we may meet someone on a vacation who we discover, after talking for a while, shares an interest with us in some hobby or career. When we meet another believer, there is a stronger bond because we know that we share the most central and meaningful part of our lives – Jesus.

Paul emphasizes this when he says, “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.” This is a prayer for the Colossians and for us. We are not solitary in our faith. That is why it is so important that we put down some roots in our local congregation. It’s a place

where we can encourage and love one another. If we just walk in the door at 11 am on Sunday and then head out to our car the moment the service ends, we miss so much. Just like one part of our physical body can’t get along on its own, so as part of Christ’s body, we don’t survive well independently.

Paul is concerned that there are people with ‘well-crafted arguments” who are deceiving the people at the Colossian church. They need to stand together in love and they need to concentrate on Christ alone. It is in knowing Jesus that they will have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”. And that is what we get in a local church. Our children hear Bible stories and talk about Jesus. Our young people get a chance to question their faith with their friends and youth leader to figure out what they believe. We hear sermons on Sunday, and we have the opportunity to attend small groups and/or classes during the week (God Questions/Alpha right now at LSA) to strengthen our faith. We have friends at church who will pray for us. At the end of services people at the front of the auditorium are there to pray with us. When we have those strong ties of love, we can grow in our faith in Jesus.

“6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow
him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

Paul uses the picture of a plant with roots. When we bought our house many years ago, there was a red maple in the front yard. It was fairly big – big enough that our young girls loved to climb up and sit in the branches – but it didn’t have a huge trunk and root system. After a few years, we noticed that it appeared to be dying. We got advice and tried several things to revive it, but nothing worked. So we decided to take it down and replant the area with something else. When we began digging the roots up, we discovered that the roots were bound in very tough cloth and

wire in a huge ball. Some roots managed to get out and grow a little, but not enough to keep the tree healthy. It appeared that whoever planted it, didn’t cut away the binding to let the root system develop. Without a strong root system, a tree can’t grow. Paul encourages us to let our roots grow down into Christ so our life can be built on him.

How do we do that? We can get involved in various church activities as mentioned before. We can read our Bibles on a regular basis so we get to know what God says. We can pray – set aside time to pray, and also consciously decide to pray about small things throughout our day or thank God for those good things we experience during our day. We can encourage others by talking to them, writing a note, sending an email, texting, etc. Being aware of our connections to other believers encourages us as well. Remind ourselves frequently that we belong to Jesus and have been set free from all our sin, thanking God that we absolutely belong to him. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” (v. 9 – 10)

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