November 9 – Strong Ties of Love

Colossians 2: 1 – 5  (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. 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. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 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 they 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 with the Holy Spirit living in us, no matter where we live. 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 to strengthen our faith. We have friends at church who will pray for us. When we have those strong ties of love, we can grow in our faith in Jesus.

The pandemic over the past 19 months has taken much of that away from us.  We had times when the church could meet, but the restrictions kept many of the programs on hold. We often couldn’t even talk to people in the foyer area – just exit as quickly as possible. Sunday school was stopped so families stayed home and tuned in online. Many people for health reasons or for safety concerns also stayed home. It’s so easy to forget the benefits of our “strong ties of love”. As this 4th wave of the pandemic seems to be flattening out, start thinking again how we can make our church central in our lives. Do you have some new ideas to try? Can you volunteer in some way? How can we keep our faith strong? How can we reach our community again?

Our song for today is Hold Us Together by Matt Maher

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