“We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, 5 which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.” (Colossians 1:3-5; New Living Translation)
Many of us share two common shortfalls: We struggle to trust Jesus deeply and we struggle to love each other lavishly. Want to have deeper faith and greater love? According to the Apostle Paul, it’s partly tied to “our confident hope of what God has reserved for us in heaven.“
The Apostle Paul prayed for the Christians in Colosse and was thankful to God for them, though he had not met most of them. Their reputation preceded them. While Paul sits in prison (probably in Rome) writing to them, he can’t help but honor them for their renowned faith and love.
In 1994, Kim and I had just moved to Sydney, Australia where I was to start teaching in a Bible College. For years I had been the pastor of the churches we participated in. But now we’d be regular members of a church community.
We had only been in Sydney a few weeks when Kim made the shocking discovery that she had breast cancer. We knew almost nobody, and had visited the Epping Church of Christ just once, when we received the devastating news from the specialist. Over the next four months or more, we had people from that church drop off meals at our home nearly every night; often people we did not know.
We got to know them well, and love them deeply. But Kim and I joked that when we could finally “church shop” we got so smothered in love by this congregation that we had no chance to “shop around.” Apparently the Christians at Epping had taken a page from the playbook of the believers at Colosse two thousand years ago.
And Paul says that at Colosse this faith and love emerged from a confidence about eternity. They held fast to the promises of eternity that Christ had made. They had utter assurance that they would live forever in the Presence of Jesus and in a place He had prepared for them. They had no fear of death, nor felt compelled to cling tightly to the things of this present world. They were, in a word, free; free to trust and love like never before.
An eternal perspective has transforming power. We trust and love most deeply when we are certain about eternity. When our future is secure, we hold things more lightly and can love more extravagantly here and now. Right now, are your eyes above or below the horizon?