Comments from Colossians (2:1-3)

I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3; New Living Translation)

In the immortal words of Loretta Lynn, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

UnitySome people think that Christian unity flows from common theology. Reformed, Arminian, dispensational, amillenial, Pentecostal, evangelical, traditional, non-denominational. Each label denotes a tribe (or “mob” if you’re Australian) to which we might belong. Each group has its gurus; spokespeople who define that tribe’s particular theology. And we enjoy some degree of unity within that common theology. But not beyond.

Others think that Christian unity flows from common mission or vision. Now we have to decide if we are missional, attractional, incarnational, simple, or some other methodological (or ideological) model. Once again, unity is reserved for common philosophical approaches to mission or vision.

Yet others think that Christian unity flows from non-confrontational, relational community. Let people be people and do what they like. Don’t challenge them, confront them, accuse them, blame them, or guilt them. Just let them find their own way through the maze of faith. And if we all step back from each other and create a safe space for each other, we’ll have unity with each other.

“We’ve come a long way, baby!”; a long way from what the Apostle Paul suggests in his letter to the Colossians.

Paul writes that he agonizes — that’s a particularly strong word — for churches he knows, churches he doesn’t know, believers he has met, and many believers who have never met him personally. That’s fairly comprehensive agony!

What does he agonize over? Two things. First, that they may “be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.” And second, that they may “have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.

Simple. Elusive.

The most compelling unity is not decided by complex theology, novel methodology, or unquestioning tolerance. It really arises from “strong ties of love” and “complete confidence in Christ.” Drop the mic.

Of course, it’s no simple thing to form strong ties of love in a culture that has preferred strong doses of independence. And it seems too simplistic to develop complete confidence in Christ alone when we’ve been raised in a culture of suspicion, cynicism, and considerable self-confidence.

Tolerance and love are not the same thing. Nicety and civility may enhance society but they do nothing to produce deep community.

No wonder Paul agonized over this. When our love for each other wanes and our pure confidence in Christ gets waylaid, we end up with pleasant religion but not radical Kingdom-living.

We might need to agonize a little ourselves.

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8 Responses to Comments from Colossians (2:1-3)

  1. Steve McNally says:

    Thank you David. Well written. This causes me to reflect deeply upon the many leadership issues that have come my way, my response and my foundation. May we all continue to be “salt and light” as we reflect the glory of God to each other and the world. We love you, Uncle Steve

  2. Tim Lentz says:

    Matthew Henry (in a comment from Colossians 1) said about the church: “. . . if we dispute less, and prayed more with and for each other, we should daily see more and more what is the hope of our calling, and the riches of the Divine glory in this inheritance.”

    Would agonizing in prayer “with and for each other” over these two things that Paul agonized over as well, produce a greater hope within us and thus also promote a lifestyle of radical Kingdom-living?

    • David Timms says:

      Tim, I suspect you’re onto it! Specific prayer that we might love each other more and trust Christ more fully, would surely produce a radicalizing humility. Blessings!

  3. Bill and Joan Grosser says:

    Hi David,

    We have been absolutely encouraged by your posts so many times, we really look forward to receiving them. It only dawned recently who you are: son of Pam and John, and you were pastoring at foothills Church of Christ. Crazy, but the penny didn’t drop!

    Anyway we have a son who has lived in Nashville (in Christian music industry as a sound engineer) for 17 years so we visit every 2 years. Ainslie also has an American wife. We think it is sad that we loose such people as you and our son from Oz!

    So, may God continue to bless you as you are such a blessing to others for the Kingdom of God.

    Bill and Joan

    Bill and Joan Grosser Families God’s Way in the Kimberley PO Box 740, Joondalup WA 6919

  4. Barry Ryall says:

    Always enjoy your reflections David and don’t comment very often so just wanted to say thank you. This is a very timely word for the Church. Thankfully the old days of being a strong critic of every other Church but our own has waned. Down under in Oz the general mood is to distrust the Church and anything religious especially if it comes across as judgmental, but they are usually OK with Jesus. Folks are being attracted to what you emphasize, genuine love not just words and those who are warmly enthusiastic about their faith not pushy. Aussies don’t like pushy. Love your work David, grace and peace. Barry Ryall

    • David Timms says:

      Barry, you have modeled this irenic and gracious spirit since the days I first met you (nearly 30 years ago)! Thanks for your own faith and influence. Blessings, my friend.

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