Today I'm back in the book of Colossians in chapter two.
"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. 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. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are an how firm your faith in Christ is." Colossians 2:1-5
There are lots of reasons to be encouraged in heart and united in love. Many of you are filling out NCAA Tournament brackets today. That guy in the office handed you a bracket and told you that the whole office is filling it out and having a pool or you got an e-mail from a friend inviting you to log in and fill out a bracket online. You've been bitten by the bug and you have full blown March Madness. You're caring about teams you've never cared about and you're likely professing knowledge about teams that you don't have.
Before you fill out your bracket you could get the wild idea to send a letter to your favorite team, your pick to win it all. Perhaps, you send a letter to Coach Ben Jacobson and the UNI Panthers. In the letter you write them to be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the will to win, namely the will to win the tournament, so that you win your office pool and become $50 richer.
Paul wrote the letter to the church at Colosse "that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love" but his reason for doing so was not to win an office pool. Paul said he did that, "so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding." Paul wanted the Colossians to be encouraged in heart and united in love so that their doctrine was good.
Paul had a deep desire for the church to have good doctrine rooted in the person of Christ. Many false doctrines were wrapped in fine-sounding arguments and some in the church were being deceived. The climate of today is no different; there are many nice sounding false doctrines that would pull us away from the supremacy of Christ. We, as the church, need to encourage one another and to be united in love so that we stay firm in our doctrine together. We, like Paul, should desire our church to be delighted when those in our local church are orderly, or in step with one another, and firm in our faith. And the way to get to this point is teaching, yes, but more than just teaching; the way to have a local church stay faithful to the true Gospel is to be encouraging one another and united to one another in love on the foundation of the one, true Gospel.
False doctrines sound most appealing to us when we are discouraged in heart or separated from the group. Satan loves a weak or lone sheep. So, encourage one another and be united in love to one another. As my pastor has said before and I've repeated often: staying faithful to Jesus is a community project.
In Christ is "hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge", therefore let's encourage one other's hearts and be united to one another in love so that we can be rooted firmly on Christ. This treasure of knowledge and understanding is worth the effort.
So, ask yourself: How can you encourage someone you love's heart to continue to pursue knowledge and understanding of Christ today?