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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

KNIT TOGETHER IN LOVE

Colossians 2:1-2 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.

This text is strong evidence that Paul, at the time of this writing, had not met the Christians at Colosse face to face. The same is probably true for those at Laodicea as well as other bodies of Christ located in this area of Greece. If this is so, they had not visually observed the mental or physical persecution Paul suffered at the hands of pagan philosophers, unreformed Jews, Judiazing Christian teachers, or any of their followers. Included in this agony Paul experienced for their sake was the possibility of Christians being led astray by false teachers. These things made up the great conflict Paul experienced in practically every city he entered to preach the gospel of Christ.

Notice what Paul told the church at Philippi: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me (Phil. 1:29-30). Here Paul warned the Philippians, that, as Christians, they could expect to suffer for His (Christ's) sake, and experience the same "conflict" that he suffered as a preacher of God's word. In the lesson text, Paul told those at Colosse, Laodicea, other churches of Christ in the area, and by inference, tells all bodies of Christ, that they could expect the same treatment by those outside the body of Christ. To live as a Christian, one must expect a life of great conflict.

At the time this epistle was written, the conflict that Paul, and most other Christians faced, included much contempt, derision, and verbal abuse, from both Jew and Gentile people, that saw Christianity as a threat to their religious, civil, and social beliefs. In many cities and states, the lives of Christians were in jeopardy, experiencing physical harm, and even death. Although this conflict exists today, physical harm and death has been restricted to only a few religiously aggressive nations. However, varying degrees of contempt, scorn, and ridicule are very prevalent against Christianity in most societies throughout the world. Contention has always existed, to some degree,between children of God and children given to worldliness. This is Paul's warning. However, he also tells Christians how to war against, overcome, and even win this great conflict,without compromising their obedience to the will of God.

Knowing that conflict would always exist against the body of Christ, Paul did not pray for, nor expected it to cease. Satan uses conflict to persuade Christians to become discouraged, to renounce obedience to the will of God, to compromise with worldliness, and to seek self-gratification. Satan wants those in the body of Christ to feel dissatisfied and uncomfortable, living a Christian life. It was Paul's prayer that their hearts might be comforted.

Although scorned derisively by the world, Christians should never feel guilt or shame for living an obedient life in Christ. Paul told the Christians at Rome, for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth (Rom. 1:16a). God's gospel is powerful; it holds the key to salvation; in it is found the way, the only way, to eternal life. Christians are, indeed, the richest people on earth. As obedient children of God, they strive to understand His word. In so doing, salvation through Jesus Christ is no longer a mystery to them. They understand that, only in Christ, can one be comforted,with the full assurance of a hope of a home in heaven.

Paul recognized the extreme difficulty of winning this great conflict while standing alone. Victory is much easier when Christians unite, support, and lend encouragement to one another - being knit together in love. As the Psalmist tells us, it is good for brethren to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1). The success of Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and other similar social groups, is based largely on this very principal. However, much more importantly, the strength to overcome Satan, to fight, and win the great conflict, can be found in the friendship and brotherly love that serves as the basis of godly, Christian fellowship. A lone strand of thread can easily be broken, but when knit together, or woven with other strands, it forms a much stronger cord. With more strands included, it becomes a rope that is extremely strong and almost impossible to break. The spiritual strength gained from association with other faithful Christians is invaluable. Satan can be defeated! The great conflict can be won being knit together in love.