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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Friday-The Virtual Apostle


I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


Colossians 2:1-3[1]


When the Pandemic hit, lots and lots of things changed overnight. All of a sudden, our daily routines were deeply interrupted by an unseen force. The way we worked. The way we shopped for food. The way we celebrated birthdays. Even the way we mourned greatly changed.


I got the call after I’d gone to sleep on April 26, 2022, that my dad had died. I immediately made plans to fly to Baltimore early the next morning. This was in the later days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though we had pre-planned much of the arrangements, there was still lots to be done. Working closely with his church and the funeral home, we planned his viewing and funeral. Many of the normal things we would have done before were swept to the side.


As I started to call people, they all sincerely expressed their deep sadness and loss. They told their favorite Chester stories with loving affection. Once all the family was personally contacted, I posted dad’s death on social media. So many kind notes and memories were shared.


While everyone wanted to come to the viewing and memorial service, most everyone was at least hesitant. Others just came out and said that they wouldn’t leave the house for fear of infection.


The people at Dad’s church were great. Once they arranged to broadcast his funeral over the internet, news spread that they could remotely participate. They used the same technology and facilities that they used to broadcast their weekly services. A copy would be available for everyone to watch later.


Yes, the way we mourned changed from a deeply up close and personal experience to arms-distance. And for many, it was moved to a completely remote event. It changed so fast from a face-to-face encounter to something that happened someplace else.


In a sense, that’s exactly where the Apostle Paul finds himself. He normally would preach and meet with people personally. He would get up in front of a crowd, and looking into their faces, he’d share his testimony. He tells them about Jesus fulfilling the Scriptures and dying on a cross for their sins. He’d invite them to give their lives to Christ. He’d challenge all the Jesus followers to respond to who God is and what he’s done by choosing to change their lives. To imitate and reflect the love that God has for them.


But Paul’s in “isolation.” He’s not only in prison, but he’s also not even in their part of the world. They’re in the middle of modern-day Turkey while he’s in Rome awaiting trial before Caesar. There’s no way that he can just pick up and meet face-to-face with them. Talk with them personally. So, he does the next best thing. He works remotely. He meets with them virtually. But instead of using Zoom or some other 21st-century technology, he does the next best thing. He uses the best available technology. He writes them a letter.


And in this letter that we know as the Epistle to the Colossians, he tells them what he’s doing for them. He may not be right there to teach them. To lead them. To help them. But he’s busting his butt for them right where he is. Paul’s more than just showing up for work. He’s working hard for them. He’s battling for them. He’s fighting the good fight for them. He’s involved in a grueling war for them. And not only for the people in Colossae but the people in the neighboring town of Laodicea. But what kind of struggle was Paul so deeply involved in that took all his energies, time, and talent?


For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


Ephesians 6:12


When Paul struggled for the Colossian Christians, he wasn’t fighting with spears, arrows, daggers, or any other weapon of the day. No, he was fighting a spiritual war. He was going against an invisible enemy that was just as real as a big, fully-trained Roman soldier.


It may not all that sophisticated to say you’re fighting against an invisible enemy. But that doesn’t make it any less real. Or any less dangerous. His enemy is also our enemy today. That evil goes around, like a roaring lion, looking to chase, bite, and eat us. To destroy us.


Paul took this struggle seriously. And so should we. How often do we pray for God’s protection against the evil that’s all around us? Or do we ask God to destroy the enemy that’s in our town?  It’s something that Paul did, and he did it with all his energy and all his heart. We need to follow his example. Starting today.


Noodling Questions


  • What things do we refuse to give up on when it comes to helping people? Why?

  • Is it easy or hard to reach out to people that are struggling? Why?

  • How can we creatively encourage the people we know?

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Bible references are from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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