We are coming to a close on the book of Colossians, and it has been a wonderful time of learning for me. I plan on finishing up chapter 4 today and over the next few days I would like to just look back over the last six weeks and pull out some of the main themes that seemed to stick out at me. Beginning next week, I plan to spend the two weeks leading up to Easter in the book of John to look at some of the last days and hours Jesus spent before the cross. But, for today let's read Colossians 4:7-18 together.
At first glance, we see the closing of a letter. I see how Paul, who had never visited the church in Colosse, was making the letter as personal as possible. Paul made sure to include the names of people that the church would recognize and may even know personally to make the letter more intimate. I think this is important because we need to remember that the people who we will be able to reach out to the best are the people in our circles of influence. Yesterday, I mentioned how we are to make the most of every opportunity while we are conducting our day to day lives - even in the grocery store. But something we need to remember is that there is a reason why God put us where we are; we can reach out in love to the people who know us. While there will be occasions when we will find ourselves ministering to strangers; more often, we will find our ministry to be with the people we already know.
Another thing that I noticed in these verses is that Paul mentions how important these people are to him and the church. He mentions their dedication to supporting him and their dedication to praying for the church. It makes me think of our dedication to God's call to support our church leaders. How much does the church support and lift up the leaders in prayer? I am not talking about praying that God would change their minds to match more of what we want; I am talking about praying God's wisdom and strength into their lives. A pastor of the local church has a big burden to carry, and we need to be praying that they will continue to give that burden over to God and follow God's leadership. We need to pray that our pastors would continue to seek God in everything and that God provide the encouragement they need.
Paul mentions the dedication of Epaphras praying for the local church. How often are we lifting up the local church to God? Not only are we to be praying for the leadership of the local church, we are also to be praying for the local church. We need to be praying for unity among the church and that the church would seek God for direction. We need to pray for the church to be a light in their community so that others would see God's glory shining through. When we pray for God's direction, we change our culture! God doesn't follow cultural trends: He gives us instruction.
Are you reaching out to those in your circle of influence? Are you praying for the leaders of your local church? Are you praying for your local church? This is how we can touch the people around us.
This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesdays and Soli Deo Gloria.