Almost there. So far we have spent seven weeks looking through the book of Colossians, trying to discover what the overarching ideas that the Holy Spirit has wanted us to learn. We have gone through three full chapters and now have arrived at Colossians 4 verse 2. So if you have your Bibles, it’s in Colossians 4:2 where we’ll be starting today.
As we have gone through Colossians, we have talked about how the Church is to know Jesus intimately, so that others may know him. We have talked about how Paul wants us to be here for the Church, and not make the Church here for us; manipulating the work of the Church for our own gain. This led us to ask the question, How can I be here for the Church without making the Church here for me? To answer this question, we have talked about how God has brought us into his fullness, through Jesus’ death and resurrection. A fullness that is supposed to be experienced beginning now, because Jesus has said that the reason he had come, is so that we would experience life and life to the full (John 10:10). Not just off in heaven when we die, but right now as we make our way to eternity.
But then we asked, if God has brought us into his fullness already, and we are to experience it now, then why aren’t we?
To answer this question, Paul revealed that there are things in our lives that are dead because of Jesus’ death, but they need to be put to death in our lives. These things hold us back from experiencing God’s fullness and we need to continually go to God and tell him to kill these things that hold us back, such as lying, gossip, anger, lust, evil desires and the list goes on. But it’s not just about killing these things, we need God to make alive those things that come from him. Things like: compassion, kindness, humility, and patience. This is why an intimate relationship with God is so important. As we rely on him to kill those things in our lives that are supposed to already be dead, we begin to experience his fullness more and more.
So we learned that to experience the fullness that God has brought us into, we need to have an intimate relationship with him. But, as we learned last week, this fullness cannot be experienced without people. We learned that loving God and loving people are interconnected, and it’s God himself who connects them. To experience God’s fullness we need to love him, but also love the people around us, because without one, the other suffers. And without both, we cannot fully experience God’s fullness. We were created to love God and love people. It is an inherent trait that was built into us, by God, at creation. Therefore by not having an intimate relationship with God, we cannot hope to experience his fullness at all, but without a love for people and meeting their needs, we cannot hope to experience God’s fullness in the way that God created us to experience it. So it’s from this understanding that we move into today’s section of Colossians.
So let’s get into today’s passage of Colossians 4:2-6, and see what the Holy Spirit was speaking to the Colossians Church, and us today.
“2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Even though there is one more section after this one, we see that this section is Paul’s concluding his thoughts that he has been taking us through since chapter one.
In the first section of Colossians, which was chapter 1 verses 1-14, we talked about how one of the first things Paul addressed with the Colossians Church was that they needed to be in prayer. Paul informed his readers that, the Church was interconnected by prayer. That though we are thousands of miles apart, we are all with each other through prayer. Though I do not know anyone in Iran, I can pray for the Church there, my brothers and sisters there, because I am connected with them. I can pray for the Church in Brazil, in China, in Canada, in India, in France, and through prayer, I stand with them. And through prayer, that connection is strengthened. I don’t know how it is going to play out in heaven. I don't know how the bond I share through prayer is going to reveal itself when I’m there, all I know is that through praying for the Church around the world, I am connected to the family that I have been adopted into through Jesus’ cross and resurrection.
In that first section, we saw Paul emphasizing the need, and calling the Church to pray. He did this, not by saying, “You should be praying,” rather by saying, “I am in prayer for you.” Paul revealed this spiritual truth, through his own example. Because he was in prayer for the Colossians Church, a church that we learned, he never had physical contact with, yet feels a connection with. And that connection comes through prayer.
Here at the end of his writing to the Colossians Church, we see that he is requesting their involvement in prayer. Paul says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
Paul asks for the Colossians Church to be devoted to prayer. Devoted to connecting to the world-wide body of believers that is the Church. Paul is asking that they devote themselves to going before God for their brothers and sisters in Jesus, asking God to open doors for the gospel to be heard. And at the end of this letter, the Holy Spirit is reaching to us, asking us, are we willing to be devoted to prayer. To connecting with other believers across this world. Asking God to reveal himself and work through them. We know this, because Paul never points to specific people as prayer warriors. He never segregates a special group for this task. Praying for other believers around the world and next to us, is a ministry that everyone of us needs to be a part of.
But Paul is not just asking for believers to be in prayer for the Church around the world. Paul is asking that we take our intimate relationship with Jesus and our love for people, and start sharing it with others. Paul says starting in verse 5, “5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Our relationship with Jesus and love for people is not supposed to be contained within the confines of the Church meeting. Instead, it is supposed to be lived out in our lives. Let’s say we get our 8 hours of sleep every week, that’s 56 hours total. That means that we are roughly awake 112 hours. We usually meet as a Church, roughly, only 2% of the time out of our week, and that’s if we meet for Sunday School, Worship, and one more hour during the week (3 hours total per week).
But if we’re only meeting one hour a week, that percentage drops to .89%. That means if we’re only coming to a one hour worship time every week, we’re spending less that 1% of our week with the Church. That means, we could be spending up to 36% of our time at work, and 69% of our time with other people. The fullness of God that we are called to experience, is to be experienced 100% of the time. That means it is supposed to be experienced both in that 2% with the Church, and the other 98% with people outside the Church. To put that in hours, 3 hours a week with the Church and about 109 hours with people outside the church.
That is why Paul says, make the most out of every opportunity. And with 98% of our life outside of the Church, we will have many opportunities to share our experience of God’s fullness with people.
But Paul doesn't just talk about the opportunities we have, but also how we are to go about those opportunities. He says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…”
Our conversations should be grace full, meaning we should allow people room to be messed up. We can’t expect people to be perfect. We can’t expect people to say all the right things, or act all the right ways. And it doesn’t matter if their a believer or not. We have to give some grace to people, because God gives it to us.
But Paul doesn’t just say, “hey, give grace.” No, he tells us to season our conversations with salt. Now, he’s not talking about carrying a little package of salt around, and when we have a conversation to sprinkle it while we talk. he’s actually giving us a practical idea.
To us, salt might not be something we would associate with conversation, but when we realize the use of salt, we can see why Paul wants our conversation seasoned with it.
Salt is used to create texture, our conversations need to build people up. Salt is a flavor enhancer, our conversations to be life enhancing. Salt is a nutrient source, our conversations need to give godly nutrients for the mind and heart. Salt is a binding agent, our conversations need to build our bond with people.
By seasoning our conversations with salt, Paul is saying, “build people up, enhance their life, let them see that you have life in you, and bond yourself to them.”
These five verses are summoning up everything that Paul has been writing about in the last 3 chapters. From praying for the Church, to living out the fullness of God in front of the world. Paul is calling us to live out loving God and loving people in real and practical ways.
We are to be mindful and intentional about the words we speak, asking God to put to death those things that hold us back, and bring alive those things that come from Him.
This is Paul’s summary. He is asking us to take what we have learned and walk it. To live it out. To connect with the Church world wide through our prayers. To have an intimate relationship with God and to love people by meeting their needs.
And then to take that and make sure that we’re building people up, and bonding ourselves to them through our conversations.
So this week, my challenge for you is this: Get some salt, you can pick it up for free in and prepackaged from McDonalds. Once you get it and it’s in some sort of bag, tape it up on a mirror, put it in your car, or carry it around with you. But whatever you do, put it in a place where you will be reminded daily to live out the fullness that God has brought you into, and to allow that fullness to be carried on the word of your conversations. Because remember 98% of our waking hours are spent outside the Church gathering, but all our conversations are to be carried out in the fullness of God that is seasoned with salt.
May God richly bless you as you go out and follow his call on your life, amen.