I am excited to dig into a new study! There is always something exciting about starting something new and I am looking forward to learning more by studying the book of Colossians. I picked this book to study because the sermon series at my church for the next several weeks is on the book of Colossians and I wanted to follow along and continue looking at the book throughout the week. Those of you who studied through Ephesians with me will probably sense a similar feel with the book as there will be parallel truths expressed in Colossians. However, there is a different overall theme with this book because the church in Colosse was struggling with their culture entering in the church and mixing God's truth with their philosophy. Another big difference from Ephesians to Colossians is that Paul probably had never visited this city and therefore he does not have a personal relationship with the people of Colosse. For today, I just want to start with the first two verses of the book; please read Colossians 1:1-2.
In the first verse, we see that Colossians is written by Paul and he also credits Timothy. Paul establishes his authority in the first sentence by telling the church that he is an apostle of Jesus. An apostle was someone who was given the task to preach the gospel, and he reminds the church that this appointment was given to him by God. Paul was in prison in Rome, and his "prison" was more like a house arrest meaning that he had slightly more freedom such as having visitors and being able to write letters. Timothy was a younger leader in the church who was mentored by Paul and often served as Paul's representative. We can guess that Timothy had a close relationship with Paul because he is mentioned in several other letters written by Paul and he also had two letters written by Paul to him.
Verse two tells us very clearly that this letter was written to the believers in the city of Colosse. As I did a little bit of reading on Colosse, I saw that that it was an inland city located closely to Laodicea. It was not as big and influential as Laodicea; however, it was located at a trading crossroads. This resulted in many people coming into the city from all over exposing the citizens to many different philosophies and ideas. This resulted in a culture that had mixed a lot of belief systems. This affected the church in Colosse because some of the cultural beliefs were entering into the church belief system. Paul's letter to the church was to set their belief straight and show them where there were false beliefs within the church.
I think that it is easy for the culture to infiltrate the church. Each culture around the world has a different impact on the church, and sometimes stepping out of our own culture can redirect what we are doing that doesn't match up with God's truth. I know going to Zambia showed me some of the cultural norms in America that affected the church. As we read through Colossians, I want to challenge you to consider what is in your culture that could be affecting the church. In America, we live in a culture that embraces convenience, materialism, and comfort, but I know that there are some regular readers from other parts in the world. For those of you who are from another country, what are the cultural norms that can be a struggle for the church? There are also regional cultural traits that affect the local church as well. For example, I live in an area where tradition is highly valued and that can have an affect the local church. As you read through Colossians, please consider the values you grew up with and how that also affects your faith.
What is the culture surrounding your local church? Is the culture dictating how the church looks?
This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty.