I was imaginatively inhabiting Paul’s letters to the people in Colossae this morning.
Philemon lived in Colossae! So when you imaginatively immerse yourself in Paul’s letter to Colossae you must also diligently envisage the rigors and jubilation of Philemon’s relationship with Paul and Onesimus!
Moreover, the Laodicea community was 20km down the road from Colossae, and Paul would often bundle his letters to both of these communities and command them to read each other’s mail! (see Colossians 2:1; 4:15-16). So …when you read Colossians, you must also submerge yourself in the saga of Revelation 3:14-22.
So I exhort you steep yourself in the stories of Colossians, Laodicea, Philemon, Onesimus, Paul, and Barney’s cousin. And as you march and mountaineer your way through the woods, canyons, and couloirs of these epistles and chronicles keep your eyes peeled for the following primary stuff:
FIXATION: We desperately want to see God! …Jesus is the image of the invisible God, for in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. What is our paradigm of true maturity and meatiness? …As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. For you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands …having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 1:15; 2:6-7, 9-12; 3:1-3, 15-17).
FRUIT: You have the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy …being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Colossians 1:6, 10-11; 2:2; 3:12-13).
FIGHT: I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Colossians 2:4, 8, 16, 18, 20-23).