As I studied today’s passage, from the Apostle Paul to the Church in Colossae and Laodicea, I kept reading about individualism and collectivism. In basic terms, collectivism is when one puts the community’s needs ahead of their own; and individualism is when one puts their own needs ahead of the community’s needs. To understand if God desires one or both, I looked to Jesus and allowed His Words to speak Truth to my own heart.
First, when the Pharisees got together, and one of them, as an “expert in the law”, tested Jesus with a question about the greatest commandment in the Law, His reply was “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:34-37). It’s clear that God’s desire, for His people, is to love Him above all else. That means we are not intended to live for ourselves or for others. Rather, we are to live for God and to seek His purpose for our lives. In that place He can use us, and a balance of individualistic and collectivistic approaches, to grow us and others as a part of His plan and Family.
In this message, Paul states that his goal is that “they may be encouraged in heart and united in love”. If we allow God to individually work to refine our hearts, we can collectively unite in love to do God’s work, as His Church (Family), to bring more hearts to know Him. Jesus spoke the ultimate words of encouragement, when He described to the disciples (and to us) how grief in His death means eternal peace in our salvation: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Jesus also prayed for all believers, and believers to come, for unity as one in Love: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
Colossians 2:1-5 (NIV)
1 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. 2 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, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Prayer: Jesus, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! Your Word encourages my soul, bringing it Your peace, and allowing the Spirit to move within my life. I treasure my Family in You. I could not make this journey of faith alone. I know that one day I, alone, will come face-to-face with You, and what a glorious day that will be, but until then, You have provided Brothers and Sister of the faith that love me and who I love so very much. I ask that You protect our Family, guide us with Your wisdom, grow us in our faith, and raise us up to love beyond our human understanding. I ask all of this in Your Holy Name, Jesus. Amen.
Written By: Jen Auer, Pastor Mary Haley’s Assistant