The Apostle closes his letter to the Colossians and we are richer for reading it.
In this unstable world there is one constant. Jesus Christ. He is not first among equals He is supreme above and beyond all. He is not one of the ways to the Father He is the only way. That’s what Paul shows us and that is why these 51 blogs have all been titled with Christ ….
Do you remember the last personal letter you received? Like me, your inbox readily gets full of emails but there isn’t anything quite like the personal touch. Sometimes I get junk-mail but I am fooled because it starts with ‘Dear Paul’ for they have used a programme that makes it look like this is personal when it isn’t. Just because it starts with your name and even if it is signed in hand-writing it doesn’t make it personal. I remember attending a team meeting many years ago with some ministers. One minister turned up with a box of Christmas cards and during the meeting signed his name in each card and then stuffed them in an envelope and handed them out. We all felt very special!
Let’s see how Paul closes down his letter, ““I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Colossians 4 v 18)
Paul takes over from the scribe, he takes the pen and in doing so he gives this letter authenticity. “This is really me, the Apostle, in prison, contained, but alive in Christ.” And in doing so he lets us all know that we have nothing to hide. With Christ there is nothing to be ashamed about. It is okay to have an imperfect life. The sin of being found out to be not what people thought you were is not greater than the sin of covering up so that they don’t. The song that has won an Academy and Grammy award for best song in 2014/15 reminds us that we should not hide who we are because eventually we will die inside. We have to be true to who we are. Queen Elsa retreats to the snowy mountains in Frozen:
Snow glows white on the mountain tonight/ Not a footprint to be seen/ A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I’m the queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside/ Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I’ve tried
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see/ Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know/ Well, now they know
Let it go, let it go/ Can’t hold it back anymore/ Let it go, let it go/ Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say/ Let the storm rage on/ The cold never bothered me anyway.
“This is me” Paul says and it encourages us in our lives and who we are and who we have become. How often are we tempted to think God is coming in revival to fix our problems or if we just get out of this situation then we will be free to do His work? The Apostle shows us a different spirituality which we all need to adhere to. Here and now. God is here. Don’t wait any longer. The Spirit is now amongst us. In this prison? I think we have missed so many moments of God because the packaging wasn’t sparkly enough.
Secondly, he goes further. “Remember my chains.” This request is no doubt for prayer. But it is also to help me be stronger in my own faith, that’s the beauty and power of journeying with the Persecuted Church. When we read of the present stories of what is happening to Christians in northern Nigeria we cannot fail to be bolder for Christ in our own free nation. (Please read this article: https://releaseinternational.org/nigeria-killings-genocide-warning-as-militants-employ-new-weapons-to-drive-out-christians/)
This request also helps us in our ‘chains’. Whatever those chains are I should never think my life is over or not valuable enough to be used by God. Your life will not be perfect. It just isn’t. Health, finance, family, heartache, we all find ourselves restricted, we all have chains.
Thirdly, after starting the letter praying for grace for them, he closes with the same request. “Grace be with you.” Isn’t that what this life is about, starting and ending with grace? Forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, life, grace. All we have been given is from God.
The Apostle isn’t speaking only about what has been given to us but what is to come. “May you have grace now and may you go on receiving and living in grace.” And who is grace? Surely it is Christ who will be with us by His Spirit. Thank you Paul.