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United in Love

In Colossians 2:1-3, Paul writes: “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.” (NIV)

A number of years ago I came across an article written by Denis Faqua (International Renewal Ministries). In it he writes: “Paul says he is struggling to see the Colossians 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. Paul is saying that we can’t know all of Christ unless we are united in love to the other members of His body! Jesus has not revealed all of Himself to any one group (or person). He has arranged it so that if we are going to know more of Him, we will need to know more of one another. Our own maturity, our ability to know more of Jesus Christ, is linked to our commitment to walk in unity.” (Italics mine)

Paul’s desire for the Christians in Colossae, is to know Christ in a deep way, with “a full rich complete understanding.” He uses the words, “I am struggling for you” or “I have agonised for you” (New Living Translation). In the Greek it is the word “agonia”. According to Vine’s Word Studies, it was also a word used at that time, among the Greeks, as a place of assembly (an “agon”), where contests or games were held and also to denote severe emotional strain and anguish (Jesus in Gethsemane).

It is also found in Colossians 4:12, regarding Epaphras: “He is always wrestling in prayer for you” (NIV) or “I can assure you that he has agonised for you” (NLT) Gr. agonizomai. And it is also used in other places relating to fighting, competing in games, striving, etc. (NIV Exhaustive Concordance – Goodrick & Kohlenberger)

What an incredible thought regarding them. There is this real sense of him contesting for them, for their growth and maturity in Christ, and likewise of Christ in the “arena” of Gethsemane, where he contested against Satan for our salvation. What a challenge! I ask myself, what do I know of praying like that, of standing in “the gap” for someone, the church, our youth, the nation and saying – “Satan, you are not going to win here!”?

United in love,” is so central to God’s heart for us and for the world. It is encapsulated in Christ’s Upper Room prayer in John 17:22, 23 – “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

This has challenging implication for us as the “body of Christ” in Ireland!

Consider in prayer: How we need, as a church, to join Jesus in this prayer to his Father – “that we may be as one as we are one.” What could not be accomplished for Him and through Him, if we did?

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