There’s a great command from Paul, here at the start of chapter 4:
Do you know what it looks like to pray diligently? Diligent is defined as showing care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties. So you could say it means praying with care. Praying conscientious of what’s going on around you. Praying as if it’s your work or duty.
I’m inspired to stop and pray right now!
There are two other things worth drawing attention to here as we wrap up Colossians: the number of names mentioned and the significance of the other church mentioned.
Now don’t hold me to this, but I counted at least 11 folks that Paul mentions by name at the tail end of chapter 4. Have you ever heard someone say that we need a team of great people around us to accomplish anything significant? Have you ever heard Margaret Mead’s quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
That’s what I think of when I read this list of people mentioned by Paul. Everyone remembers Paul because Paul wrote all the letters. Plus, he was the one leading the charge. But he couldn’t have done it without an incredible supporting cast. And these are the folks who traveled with him, who were jail birds with him, who helped him start the churches and continued working there after he moved on to other cities.
Which brings me to the other church mentioned here. There are actually two. He mentions the church at Laodicea and the church that meets at Nympha’s house. Now, the church of Laodicea apparently received a letter. But that letter didn’t make it in the Scriptures.
I wish we knew what it said. But all we know instead is Paul wants them to do a little switcheroo. Colossae believers need to get in touch with Laodicea believers and swap letters. This wouldn’t be a huge deal because they were only 15km apart, but that would take a couple days to walk and swap. Worth it? Probably. Did it happen? We don’t know.
All we know is that about 30 years later, when John writes the book of Revelation, the messenger tells John to write a letter to the church at Laodicea, and it’s not full of rainbows and butterflies. In fact, it’s one of the most scathing of the seven letters to the seven churches. John tells them that they are lukewarm, and Jesus doesn’t like lukewarm. He’ll spit them out of his mouth.
Three decades. They go from an encouragement and a bright spot in Paul’s letter to a scathing critique in John’s letter.
May we learn from their ways. May we gather a small group of committed helpers. And may we pray diligently.