Scripture: Colossians 1:1-15
We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Some days, some seasons it seems as though there is nothing but morning–as though the whole world is nothing but woe and even the church of Jesus Christ has nothing to offer. Who am I kidding? Even the church of Jesus Christ, sometimes it seems like the church is a major source of pain and trauma. It certainly doesn’t feel like we are lifting very many burdens.
The temptation to give up in despair is almost irresistible.
I’ve found a strange comfort this week in one of the ancient letters preserved in our scripture. It was written by the Apostle Paul to a small church in a town called Colossae. Like us, they were struggling to be church in a season of great turmoil and stress. The community around them misunderstood what they believed and why and perceived them as a threat. Experts were coming through all the time to tell them what they were doing wrong and how they needed to urgently and dramatically change. They were under enormous pressure and beginning to slowly and sadly drift away. In desperation, their pastor Epaphras wrote to his mentor for help. Paul sent back a beautiful letter of encouragement and hope telling them, in the nicest possible way, to calm down. Because–Jesus. Because the pain and suffering and brokenness in the world is real and urgent and it would be a sin to harden our hearts and become indifferent to it. And still–Jesus is risen, the first fruits of all creation.
Freedom School is filling our campus with love and joy and chaos and art work. Every day, as I scurry around this place trying to hold it all together, I pass a sign one of our scholars designed and hung on the wall. It says, ‘you’ll get over it.’ It makes me laugh, and then it makes my shoulders drop. I don’t know what this young artist was trying to say, but I think he’s captured the essence of Paul’s message to the Colossians.
Yes, what is against us is tremendous, but we do not need to lose heart. Because–Jesus. By grace, we are part of the body of Christ. Jesus is Lord and he has defeated the powers of sin and death, destruction and violence, enmity and lies. We can’t face all of the evil around us, but what is in us is not of us. In Christ, we’ll get over it. In Christ, we’ll get through it. In Christ, we’ll get by.
I think we all need to hear Paul tell us why–in the midst of everything–we are going to be okay.
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