“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” -Colossians 1:1-2
This introduction is incredibly poignant in light of the context of this letter.
Addressing the scattered believers within Colossae, Paul reaches out from within a prison cell, bringing immense words of comfort to a church body hounded by heretical ideals and empty philosophy: ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father.’
Paul knew that what these believers needed was grace and peace, not more ideology or philosophy.
Of course, he delves into many topics throughout this letter, from the reality of Christ’s deity to the importance of forgiveness, but the foundation of any theological discussion must be grace and peace.
It’s easy to ignore this as merely a common greeting for the time, but the reality is it is part of scripture for a divine reason.
It is to show that it is grace and peace from God that needs to be at the core of thought and reason. Paul’s approach could have been sterile, derogatory, even uppity, but instead it is laced with the grace and peace needed for such conversation.
You see, his concern was out of love for the believers at Colossae. They were struggling, and he was fiercely protective of their relationship with the Lord. We can’t miss the gravity of Paul’s loving kindness toward these people.
We must follow Paul’s example of gracious love in every interaction we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As believers, there is always potential to be wise in our own estimation. There is shameful pride that creeps in, convincing us that our beliefs and scriptural understanding and depth of knowledge in theology are somehow what God sees as being worth something.
This leads to a spirit of derision toward believers who are at a different place in life than we are—believers who are perhaps struggling with their faith, or confused on different points in scripture than we are, or who have simply not yet had an opportunity to see errors in their lifestyles—just like the Colossian church.
Unless fully reliant upon the grace of God, there is no way we can approach believers in love.
Paul understood his desperation for grace, his depravity apart from Christ, and his unworthiness. He even goes so far as to establish in the first verse that it was not his will nor anyone else’s but God’s alone that established him as an apostle.
This humble, grace-thirsty approach gave Paul the deepest desire to see other believers flourish in their faith. Without such grace-thirst, it is impossible to feel that love for others.
The lack of grace that we have for one another is directly correlated with the depressingly divided state of Christianity today.
If we approach others in a spirit of superiority, we will never enjoy the fruit of godly fellowship.
Legalism, moralism, self-seeking acts of piety, pride-feasts, and decay are all that will result from the notion that our own righteousness, or knowledge, or experience makes us somehow better than others.
We must resist to death the idea that we could somehow be worth more than another simply because we don’t struggle with the same sins or ideas.
And so we must fiercely pursue that humble understanding of the grace of God.
Oh, that believers everywhere would recognize the planks in our own eyes, and fall into the arms of Christ, allowing His perfect grace to do a good work in our lives so that we can live as conduits of such grace to others.