Want some news to bring a smile to your face?
As we continue studying Colossians 1:1-8, look at verse 4. Paul says that he has heard good things about the Christians, news he is thankful for, and as a result he wants to keep encouraging them. Word has spread through the Christian network, which relied on letter writing and word of mouth. Paul mentions two things that the Colossian Christians were known for: faith and love. If you want to be known for something, those are two really good things!
He had previously mentioned the first one. Their faith in Christ Jesus, and now he adds to it, the love they have for all the saints. Clearly the Christians in Colosse were pursuing a genuine expression of discipleship to Jesus. It was marked by faith in Christ, faith which they demonstrated in active love for one another. I wonder how people in your community would describe your church? Would they say, “Oh those people clearly have faith in God, and I know it because they love one another.”?
Thankfully, Paul helps us understand faith and love a bit more. Look at verse 5: faith and love spring from hope! Christians are a people of hope. When our world is falling apart, we have hope. Why? Paul explains it for us: our hope is stored up for us in heaven. We have hope beyond the world around us. That doesn’t mean we despair of this broken, fallen world. That doesn’t mean we look at the world as hopeless. Instead Paul is saying that our hope in heaven translates to faith in Christ that flows out to loving one another, bringing that hope into the here and now. In other words, our hope in heaven radically transforms how we view and live in the world now! It shapes our perspective.
Paul goes on to remind the people that they had already heard about this hope in the word of truth, which is the gospel. That was the message proclaimed to them, the true message of the gospel. “Gospel” here is the word where we get our English word “evangelism” and “evangelical.” In the language Paul wrote, the Gospel is the “evangel” or the “euangelion,” and what that means is a “the message of Good news.” In Paul’s day, “evangel” was not an exclusively Christian term. Paul borrowed the term from the larger culture. “Evangel” was a common word that referred to the proclamation of good news. One scholar says this: “the expression ‘the gospel’ or ‘the good news’ must be rendered by a phrase, for example, ‘news that makes one happy’ or ‘information that causes one joy’ or ‘words that bring smiles’ or ‘a message that causes the heart to be sweet’.” (Louw & Nida)
I love that! We have a message of good news in Jesus, that through his life, death and resurrection, we have hope of abundant life now and eternal life in heaven, and that makes us happy, joyful, and brings smiles to our faces. Paul personally experienced that hope, and could not stop talking about the good news. We have the exact same hope! We are good news people, and we should let it flow forth from our lips and in our actions with love!