Hello my friends. Colossians 4 today, and back to basics. Jesus taught us two simple commands: love God with all you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself. And those simple keys guide every step as we follow Jesus.
Chapter 4 starts where 3 ended: with directions for relationships. Here - slaves and masters. Now you have to ask: does the Bible support slavery? Does it condone inequality, racism, and oppression?
Let me be blunt. No. The Bible does not support slavery, and anyone who uses the Bible to support oppression or human inequality is abusing and misusing the words - to their shame. Now the Bible addresses slaves and masters because slavery was a reality of the time, and Paul offers instruction on how to live in real life. To slaves, he says: work hard - like you’re working for God because He is your true master.
And in chapter 4:
“Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”
Here and elsewhere the Bible reminds masters and slaves that they are equal in God’s measure, no matter how society separates them. Still, you have to wonder why Paul doesn’t just abolish slavery by mandate of God.
This is important. Jesus, in His first coming, did not come to fix the system and set our world right. He came to fix our hearts, and set our hearts right with God. In His second coming, Jesus will establish His Kingdom in the world, but He first came to establish His Kingdom in us. First: King of your heart. Second: King of the world.
So Paul teaches us to live right in a world that’s still wrong. Slaves and masters, workers and employers, do what’s right. Later Paul tells slaves to get their freedom if they can, and his letter to Philemon tells a slave master to set his slave free and call him brother - a huge statement in that day.
Fast-forward through history, and we find that so many of the heroes who fought and sacrificed to end slavery were inspired and driven by their faith in the Bible. God changed their hearts, then they changed their world.
Back in Colossians, verse 2:
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
And that gives us our next new habit: prayer. Read your Bible and pray every single day. Again, it's not a got to, it's a get to. Prayer is amazing. We get to talk to God - the Creator of the universe - directly. Paul says "devote yourself" to it. Make it a priority.
What should you pray about? Everything. What you need, what you're thankful for, what you're thinking or confused about or hoping for. Pray for people. Pray for me! I need it. Pray - about - everything.
Think about it. Communication is vital to every relationship. Talking is how we get to know each other. The great thing about a journey together is time to talk, open up, grow deep. It's the same with God. As we follow Jesus, we talk along the way. We get real, share hopes and fears. We open doors and let Jesus in.
Think about prayer like talking to a good friend. When it’s unhealthy, it’s all about getting what you want. When it’s healthy, it’s about getting to know each other. Prayer isn't homework or an essay that gets graded, so don't worry about praying "the right way." Just be genuine. Approach God's throne humbly and reverently - He is God; but also confidently - Jesus made you right with God. And Romans 12 says to be "constant in prayer" - like a phone call that never hangs up.
Now the rest of Colossians is greetings. Remember, this is a real letter between real people. And those people loved each other! So they send greetings. I love this about the Bible. It's personal. God could have carved his word directly in stone, but he chose to write it first on human hearts who loved. And that love shines through the page.
And it brings us to one more habit: fellowship. Spend time with other Christians. Dig into life together. Love God and love others. Hebrews warns us not to forsake the gathering of your Christian family - the church.
Now the word church in the Bible is not a building, it's the people who follow Jesus. Church can meet in a building, but if we're not connecting with each other in a real way, we're missing the point. As you read through chapter 4, watch the names - people who care personally - Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Nympha, and notice,
“...the church in her house” (4:15).
Back then, churches met in houses - like family.
So those are the basics: love God and love others. To do that, start a prayer habit: get to know God. And start a fellowship habit: get to know others. Maybe invite someone at work or school to follow this plan with you, talk through the discussion questions, and pray together. That's a Bible habit, prayer habit, and fellowship habit. Wow. That was really easy.
Now if you need help getting started, we'll go over it tomorrow. For today, read Colossians 4, and keep it simple: love God and love each other.