Here's to a Life Well Lived! Colossians 2.1-5
Libraries of respected leaders, managers and savvy businesspeople usually contain biographies of people who have led meaningful, purposeful lives. That is because reading about the driving force in others' lives is both inspirational and motivational. In fact, the study of a life well lived oft galvanizes folks to take action in their own lives. 'Your attention? Otherwise, what? Otherwise, you get to be 80 years old and you look back, and say, 'so I don't think I made the world a better place by my years here . . . and really, I don't think I impacted too many people for good either.'
The Bible is an encyclopedia of quite a few impressive biographies, which is one more compelling reason to study the Scripture. (Honestly, I have never thought of it quite that way, until now) Here at the start of Colossians 2, we find ourselves getting to know the heartbeat of one Paul the Apostle, a.k.a. Saul of Tarsus. We remember from past studies that his pedigree was of stellar Jewish stock, and he was also a Roman citizen; he was educated by probably the world's most highly regarded first-century rabbi, Gamaliel, in Jerusalem.
Whatever he set his mind to, he did it with everything in him-he was passionate! When he persecuted the Christians, as recorded in the early part of the book of Acts, he wanted them prosecuted to the fullest extent of Roman law, endeavoring to protect his precious Judaism. But when confronted with truth in the person of Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road, (Acts 9), he was so convinced, that he literally turned around and went the opposite direction.1 Paul then transitioned from a life driven by the Law to one transformed by grace. So in love with his Savior was he, that he seemed to make it his life's mission to fulfill Acts 1, verse 8, all on his own:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(the charge of Jesus just before he ascended into Heaven.) Paul introduced people to the Good News of the Gospel wherever he went, and then set out on his first missionary journey some 10 years after his own conversion, establishing churches as he went.
Imprisoned (likely in Rome) for preaching of Christ, he writes to Colosse and includes the town of Laodicea, located a little more than ten miles away-wanting his letter to be read aloud to the believers in both communities. Confined, Paul agonizes in prayer for his fellow brothers in Christ, revealing his great affinity for them.
Take a look with me at Colossians 2, verses 1 - 5: "I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose 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. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is."2
In these few short verses, he encourages the Christians, and states his purpose: that others may be united in love and have full knowledge of Christ, and remain firm in that faith.
As I think of it, Paul was probably just a few years older than me when he wrote these words; I can see no greater purpose for my life than that: my purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart, united in love, have full knowledge of Christ, and stand firm in the faith. Thank you, my brother; thank you, my mentor, Paul.
1 - probably somewhere around 33-36 A.D.
2 - New International Version 1984