The man was beat up badly for telling people about Jesus. And then thrown in prison. You might think he’d have taken a break and used the time to rest up. But not Paul. He said:
“I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” (Colossians 2:1)
Struggling? The word he used gives us our word for agonizing. In jail? Doing what? Praying. Not just “Now I lay me down…” but agonizing over these folks in prayer – people he had never met! Why? What was so important that, even though he couldn’t be there personally, he worked hard in prayer for them?
Turns out, the problem was human ideas were creeping into their understanding. People who loved to be in positions of authority and control over others were teaching them a bunch of nonsense. Religious nonsense. It sounded good. But it was leading them farther and farther away from what they really needed to know.
“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)
Think about the simple but reverent lifestyle and teaching of Jesus. Compare that simplicity to what the various forms of Christianity have become! What has changed? Human ideas have been added, ones that seem good because they sound religious, but which dilute and pollute the essence of what it means to follow Jesus. Think of the lavish architecture, the costumes, the ritual and the extravagance. Think of all the rules and regulations that have been layered on the simple message of Jesus. This distortion in the name of Jesus has been going on from the very earliest days of the church. Paul couldn’t be there to rail against it, so he agonized in prayer for them. And he wrote to them:
“I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” (Colossians 2:4)
God loves you. Your sins have separated you from Him. He wants to forgive you and reconcile you to Himself. He has paid the penalty for your sin, on your behalf, by the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus. Stop trying to fix yourself and trust Jesus instead. Surrender to Him and He will come and live in your soul by His Spirit. In Him you have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” If you have His life in you, that’s all you need. Plus nothing.