“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me in person. I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding, and have the knowledge of God’s mystery – Christ. In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.” (Colossians 2:1-3 CSB)
Paul did not start the church at Colosse. It was started by Epaphras. And there is no record of his going there, although there is evidence that he likely visited the church on a fourth missionary journey not recorded in Acts. Paul also did not start the church at Laodicea. There were undoubtedly many other churches he did not start. But, Paul struggled for all of them. This would seem to be a prayer struggle.
Here is an interesting question: Why would Paul want these churches to be encouraged and joined together, even though he had never been there and did not know these folks? Here is the answer: It is because Paul knew that all churches face at least two fundamental tendencies, toward discouragement and disunity. And that is because these are two of Satan’s primary weapons against the church.
All churches face a tendency, a gravitation toward discouragement and toward disunity. Dealing with these two tendencies requires a conscientious decision to commit toward working in the opposite direction. Every church, and thus every Christian, needs to daily recalibrate a commitment to work toward whatever it takes to encourage the church, and whatever it takes to bring and foster unity in the church. Of course, encouragement at any price and unity at any price does not work. But it is important that we make encouragement and unity a priority for the church and for individual Christians. Whatever God leads us to do to move in this direction is an instruction we must follow.
Lord, Help us today to carry out a commitment toward encouragement and unity in Your church, for the sake of Your kingdom’s work. Amen.