Sunday, January 22, 2012

Conclusion: Fulfill Your Calling! (Colossians 4:7-18)

At the conclusion of letters such as Colossians, a lot of people (myself included) tend to go into skim mode—sort of like when you hit the genealogy sections of the Old Testament. However, a closer look can often be rewarding especially for the insight we gain into the life of the church in Paul’s day.

Here specifically, three names jump out at us:

Tychicus grants us a connection with the letter that we today know as Ephesians. He was apparently the messenger bearing both letters, maybe a third one to Laodicea as well. (Unless that is the one we now call Ephesians.) Apparently the churches in the various homes across the increasingly Christian region kept in touch with one another and passed teaching and encouragement back and forth. We know that Paul in particular in his role as apostle had to stay in touch with the various groups he had started and in this case even with ones that were second or third generation removed.

Onesimus is also an important name that we find here, and this connects this correspondence with Philemon, as letter that was also being sent out at this time.

Archippus is the third name that jumps out at us here, and his is a more mysterious and fancifully compelling story. In the first place, we do not know enough to really speculate what this cryptic message means. All we know is that he too is a part of the church meeting at Philemon’s house, and he may have some connection to the Laodicean church. In any case, Paul exhorts him to fulfill a mission or calling that he has received from God.

Even without knowing what that calling is, we can take this verse and apply it today. When we feel a special leading from God to take on a particular mission or ministry, and we have made that impression known to the church and gotten the church’s confirmation or support, we need to stick with it until it is fulfilled. Too often these days, people take on a calling and then give it up saying that our calling has changed. If it is not complete in some way, it has not changed.

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