The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Unity in Doctrine and Love

By: Nathan Fox

Introduction to the Book and the City

As promised in my previous blog post, I have begun a personal study series into the book of Colossians and have thus decided to write for the next few weeks on little lessons that God is teaching me from the book. Before I dive into today’s blog content, I feel it very important that we have a somewhat firm knowledge of the background behind this Pauline epistle. Naturally, we would assume that this book was written to the people of Colosse, and we would be correct. Knowing this, there are several interesting characteristics to note about the city of Colosse.

First of all, Colosse was a very influential city, and likewise was influenced by other cities. We know this because of some of the content from Paul in this letter. Several times Paul warns the people of Colosse to hold firm to true doctrine, and to not be swayed by false teachings such as Gnosticism (of which we will cover in greater detail in future blogs). Secondly, this city was an important city for wealth and commerce in its prime days. Many people came through the city using an established trade route, allowing us to believe that it indeed was a very influential city during the time that Paul wrote this epistle. Lastly, and perhaps most pertinent to this blog, Paul seems to have never visited the city, and so did not found the church there in Colosse. Looking at chapter 2 and verse 1 we will see that Paul’s face was foreign to the people at Colosse, and that he had not had any previous face-to-face engagements with them. This to me is a very telling attribute of Paul that he would write with such love and Christian unity to a people he had never met. It is also the teaching point that I wish to focus on today.

Paul’s Desire for Unity and Love 

I want us to take note of verse 2 in chapter 1. It is an introductory verse to be sure, but it also carries with it the people to whom Paul is writing (and thus gives us an idea of what he is seeking to write about). Paul declares that this epistle is to “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ.” Take a note that Paul is writing to believers who have remained faithful to the teachings on the person and work of Jesus. Once again, we will cover the false teachings that surrounded the Colossian church in a later blog, but we must note that there was enormous outside pressure on the believers to believe false doctrine. But Paul encourages them in this verse by calling them faithful! They are united in doctrine with Paul, and for that he calls them brothers! They not only believed on Jesus, but have not strayed from the foundational Christian teachings, and in turn have expressed unity with Paul. 

But Paul doesn’t stop there with his idea of unity in this church. He goes on verse 3 of the same chapter to say this: “We (Paul and Timothy) give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints.” Can you see the unity expressed in these verses? Paul is not only united in belief with the brethren of Colosse, but is united in prayer for them! Paul takes the time out of his day to pray for these people because he knows 1) they will need it with the outside pressure that they face and 2) because they are his brothers in Christ and to pray for them strengthens the unity in the church. In a few verses, Paul has expressed his love and passion for these people because of their unity in belief (verse 2) and their unity in action (end of verse 4). Upon reading these few verses, it becomes very clear that Paul wrote to encourage these people to stay steadfast in their faith, and to remain united to each other through love and sound doctrine. These first verses in chapter 1 honestly lay a deep foundation for the rest of the book, and subsequently lay a foundation for the rest of this blog study.

What to Take Away from This

There are a few points I wish for each of us to take away from this book, and I believe I have highlighted them by using these first few verses from the epistle to the Colossians.

  1. Be United in Doctrine- It is easy to be swayed by false doctrine that tickles our ears and pleases us to hear. However, if it is not Biblical and strays in theology, then it is to be avoided at all costs! Do not stray from the teachings on the work and person of Jesus Christ! Do not stray on the teachings on the depraved state of man! Do not stray from the teachings that God is sovereign and has created everything according to His plan! Though these are just a few of the foundational teachings of Christianity, these are oh so important and must be adhered to. Do not stray from the Bible!

  1. Be United in Prayer- Take time to pray for churches across this world. Not only have many churches strayed into heretical teaching, but many churches are falling apart because of a lack of love for each other and the outside community. It pains my heart to see Christians lack love for the lost. It pains me to see Christians fight about trivial matters. It pains me to see pastors and elders do all the work of the church as so many sit around and do nothing. Pray for the churches that need revival! Pray for the pastors that are weary! Lift each other up in prayer, and know that in doing so you are establishing unity through your words to God.

  1. Be United in Action- This is a simple request: love each other enough to display it through action. If you take the time to pray for each other, then naturally you will have gained a heart of love for your brother or sister in Christ. Reach out to the brothers who are hurting, and trust me there are plenty who are in pain. Take time to love each other through more than just prayer, but to love through action as well. The church needs to be united through action to both each other and to the lost, and I hope this tidbit of encouragement will inspire us to get off of our hands and to extend our hands to those who need our help. Be the hands of feet of Jesus, and watch as the church becomes united through authentic love in Jesus’ name.

If you need some clarification on the doctrine of the Christian faith, do not hesitate to ask. It is my goal to reach people through this blog (why else would I write it?), and by asking questions about the Christian faith God will grant me the opportunity to extend to you the love that can only be found in Jesus. If you need prayer, shoot me a private message and I will take the time to pray for you as often as you ask for it. I want to lift you up in prayer in whatever way that I can. Lastly, if you would like to become more involved in ministry and want to display love and unity through action, shoot me a message and I will give a list of great organizations that you can become involved in. 

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