We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all the saints— the faith and love proceeding from the hope stored up for you in heaven, about which you have already heard in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. (Colossians 1:3-6a BSB)
What is your church known for? Its size? Its music? Its preacher? Its architecture? Or for its faith, compassion, and service?
The church in Colossae was known for its faith, and secondly for its love. What a remarkable thing to note! Too often we are more interested in the reputation of a church among the spiritually-weak and faith-impoverished among us. We want to be part of a church that impresses the wrong people on a grand human scale, rather than part of a church that impresses God and the right people on a spiritual scale.
Our Destination Changes the Nature of our Journey
The Colossians were known for their faith and love because God had born a witness in their hearts through the Gospel of the hope laid up for them. They had a destination in their lives – both individually and corporately — and that fact altered their thoughts, choices, values, relationships, and daily lives. It was the hope of grace, that in Christ Jesus we are forgiven fully, set free and restored to our original purpose as God’s creations.
This eternal hope that God had planted in their hearts gave them faith in daily life. They believed God and their faith opened up the flood gates of heavenly blessings. Faith is not faith in ourselves, in our character, or in our determination. Faith is faith in God and in His character and in His determination. It is the steady and constant confidence that God is, that He will fulfill His promises, that He will bless those who search Him, those who respond to His callings.
Faith led to love. They loved God for His faithfulness to His Word, and, thereby, they loved who He loved and what He loved. God loves His Word and God loves His people. God loves to show Himself true to His Word and faithful to His promises to His people.
Blinded by Love and Faith, not Money and Power
We have to also note the culture they were saved from. Later in the epistle Paul reminded them: “Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). They came from where we all come from, for this is what the world is.
The rejection of the world’s priorities, of its values and its promises, was possible because the Gospel was superior in its power to transform their hearts. Our actions are not transformed until our hearts are, and that is where God does His greatest work.
I once listened to a woman try to explain why she was a Christian – it was a rather circuitous reasoning that was not making a lot of sense to me, but I suspected either she was not a Christian at all, or she had a fundamental misunderstanding of the faith. Basically her hope was still all in the world’s values and its system. She wanted a successful business, the respect of worldly people, and the fulfilment of her ambitions, but she thought that if she “feigned” love to God (she did not use that word, but I could draw no other conclusion as to what she meant other than trying to fool God by pretending to love him) that He would bless her.
This was NOT the faith of the Colossians. Theirs was real, and centered in God. They had ceased to be concerned about getting God to do what they wanted Him to do, and instead altered their thinking, by the power of God at work in them, to make sure their lives pleased Him first, second, and last.
This is liberating — the freedom from worldly lusts and pride that the Gospel brings, the desire to please Christ and Him only — and it is the only true freedom that the human soul shall ever enjoy.
Have you been liberated by the Gospel? Has God set you free from the world’s fallen values? Have Godly hope and your ultimate destination changed the nature of your journey on earth? Are you known for your faith and love?