“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints…”
I was blessed to sit under the teaching of one of my old pastors this past weekend as I was visiting another church with a friend. The text for the day was Colossians 1:1-8. It was refreshing, it was encouraging, but ultimately it was challenging. I walked away with one question ringing in my mind: What am I known for?
The apostle Paul is addressing the church at Colossae. He begins his letter to them with strong words of encouragement and thanksgiving for their faith in Christ and their love for each other. Paul is writing this letter to them from prison, so the encouragement he feels by knowing that they are growing in their faith is incredible. The testimony of their faith had spread all the way to his prison cell, and the fruit of their faith was evident. Paul specifically gives thanks for two things that he sees demonstrated in this church. First, he is thankful for their faith in Christ. While the message of the gospel was falling on deaf ears in other parts of the world, they had responded to it in faith. Secondly, he is thankful for their love for each other, the body of Christ. Whatever they were doing to demonstrate godly love within their community was worth recognizing with appreciation and thankfulness on Paul’s part. These two incredibly important things, among others, were the defining characteristics of this body of believers. Paul would go on in his letter to exhort them in other ways and challenge growth in them in different areas, but from the beginning, he points out their faith and their love.
These few verses beg the question, “What are you known for?” If the apostle Paul were to write a letter to your church, your body of believers, your small group, your family, or you personally, a letter inspired by the Holy Spirit, what would it say? Would you be recognized for your faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that defines who you are? A faith that characterizes your life, both in and outside of the church walls? Would you be thanked for loving God’s people well? Does the love of Christ define your interactions with others? Does it define your relationships? Is your life one of faith in Christ and love for His people?
This passage challenges me; it is incredibly convicting. I want to be known first and foremost for my faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t want others to simply say, “She’s a good person. She’s really nice.” Any good works or kindnesses on my part are in vain if not done in and through the power of Jesus Christ. I don’t want recognition for myself. I want Christ to be recognized in my life, and I want Him to be easily recognized. I want people to encounter Him when they meet me. I want them to see the light of Christ in my life. I want to be known for faith and love. Am I? Are you? Is “Christian” a label that you only wear on Sundays or it is your first response when asked “who are you”? What are you known for?
You have met with us again today in your Word. You are so faithful to reveal your truth to us when we show up expectant. Lord, I pray that eyes, ears, and hearts were opened today from the truth in your Word, and I pray that each one of us chooses today whom we will live for, whom we will worship, and whom we will be know for. Father, I pray we will, as your church, be known for bold, unwavering faith and Christ-like love for your people. Stir within us a desire for the fame of your name.
In Jesus’ name,