Colossians Devotional | Absent in Body, Present in Spirit
Colossians: Christ Above and Before All
The Glory of God Revealed in Jesus
Absent in Body, Present in Spirit
“5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” - (Colossians 2:5)
Man, I miss you guys. It’s been three months since I’ve seen most of you.
I’m a hand-shaker and a hugger. I like to be around people. I like to see you, face to face. I like to hear your voice. I like to share meals and drinks.
I sincerely believe there is a mysterious and very real--meaningful--presence of the Lord when his people gather in worship. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is shared by the church body and his work “knits us together in love.”
But, because of the Coronavirus, we haven’t been able to gather together. Hence, these ongoing devotionals and the Wednesday evening Bible study I lead online--I follow Paul’s pattern in writing letters and loving you with the Word of God from far off. Even though I am absent in body, I--like Paul--am with you in spirit. I’m rejoicing and happy any and every time I come to find of your good order and your firmness of faith in Christ.
Paul spends a lot of time in his letters naming people. He mentions those who are visiting him, bringing him necessities, sending him letters of encouragement and prayer. Do you know why? They were important to him! They let him know he wasn’t alone. He wasn’t the only one trying to stir up faith and hope in love. They were showing him that he wasn’t all by himself, the only one doing the work. They were doing it back to him and to one another, and that made Paul so, so glad!
It can be a lonely and isolating life, pastoring and shepherding. It can feel--even if you know it’s not really true--like you’re the only one trying to do the work of leading, caring, serving, praying, and obeying Jesus...setting a good example and committing yourself to Jesus and his church. A pastor can feel really alone and he can get tired pretty quick. A pastor can feel like a failure pretty easily, too, no matter how hard or how much he works. There’s just too much to pray about, too many problems to solve, too many spiritual or physical crises, and not enough of himself to go around.
Paul needed--he needed--to know that he wasn’t alone in the ministry. In the church. Though he was absent from the body, he received a gift from the Lord that he needed to keep going in ministry. You know what that gift was? The Colossians. The Philippians. The brothers and sisters, most of whom weren’t pastors or leaders. They were just pouring out the love of Christian faith on one another and back onto Paul.
It makes me, as a pastor, glad. It helps me to keep going and staying faithful in ministry to hear of your lives with the Lord “in good order.” When I get to see your “firmness of faith in Christ.” I know that I’m not alone, even though we might absent from one another in the body. We’re with one another in spirit.
Amen and bless the Lord.
We’ve been absent in the body, from the Body of Christ, for quite some time. What is in your power, by God’s grace, to encourage another Christian in the firmness of their faith? Who do you need to reach out to, pray for and with, send scripture, etc? Commit to doing that today--there are a lot of people who feel alone in this walk. Let them know they’re not alone.
Did you know there’s something helpful and encouraging when you share your struggles with other Christians? It’s true! Everyone else has trials and challenges of faith, so when you share those of your own, it lets people know they’re not alone. “Absent in body” gives us all the more opportunity to be present “in the spirit.” Call one another--gather, if you can safely--and entrust yourselves to one another, stirring one another up in “firmness of faith.”