…the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel… – Col. 1:5 NIV
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That Christianity is going through turbulent times with many falling out of Faith lines is not in argument. Several stories abound of people who were once very hot for things of the kingdom becoming so wax cold that their heart have become hardened against the same beliefs that they stood strongly to defend – Matt. 24:12. This situation can be attributed to many reasons including the great deception of many Christian leaders and the lack of communal living that characterized the early Church but of equal significance is the role played by infiltrators, who disguised as converts, quickly rose up the ranks within Christian groups only to show their fangs, revealing their true identities after attaining leadership positions – 2Pet. 2:1-22. They were simply like the proverbial wolves in sheep clothing with the sole mission to implement the wish of their father, the Devil – Matt. 7:15. It was either a case of pretense and hypocrisy all the while, of being true believers or they became careless along the line with their Christian life and got deceived by the Devil. Whichever is the case, they soon become thorns in the flesh of the body of Christ and become veritable tools in discouraging true Christians from progressing in their Christian life. The Church in Colosse was not different as it also had its own experience of the actions and effects of these class of fake or mis-directed Christians.
Although there is no proof that the Apostle Paul founded the Church in that part of Asia, the influence of those to whom he had introduced the Faith in the neighboring Ephesus was not in doubt as that seemed to be the source of the awareness and the conversion of the people of that city to the Christian Faith, amongst whom was Philemon, a very prominent personality and owner of slaves, one of whom was Onesimus – Philemon 8-25.
Epaphras whom the Apostle Paul described as a fellow servant and a faithful minister of Christ, obviously played an important role in the establishment of the Church in that part of Asia. He had initially reported their faith in Jesus Christ and love for the saints by the brethren in Colosse to Paul and his fellow workers – Col. 1:4. According to the Apostle Paul, both actions were the product of their hope in what is stored up for them in heaven, an information which they got through the teachings of the Word of truth that they were exposed to, and which gave them a great understanding of God’s Grace in all its truth. According to him, this was not a new development as the same teaching was growing and bearing fruits all over the world, thereby providing sufficient proof to convince anyone that the growth being experienced was the result of the teaching that they had being exposed to – Col. 1:5-6.
Similarly, these two major virtues which are the expression of genuine Faith in Jesus Christ and all that he represents, and the expression of agape love amongst the brethren, feature prominently in every Christian or Christian group that is witnessing growth today. This is not surprising as that was the foundation that was laid by Jehovah and observed by the fathers of the early Church – Exo. 16:18; Acts 4:32-37; 2Cor. 8:15. Both virtues no doubt helped to strengthen everyone in the faith and a deep analysis of the events surrounding the reverse growth in Christendom today will point to the absence or reduced presence of both virtues in the Church.
The Church today can stem this slide into possible extinction if only it will remind itself of how both virtues were sustained in the early Church.
The Apostle Paul provided the clue in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional when he revealed that it was due to the teaching of the Word of Truth, that not only made the people aware of the great hope that was awaiting them in heaven but also kept them standing even in the midst of several challenges and contrary doctrines. What a great revelation of the influence that constant teaching of the Word of Truth can have on the stability of the Christian in faith. There must be something wrong then in what is being taught in Christian groups that are witnessing reverse growth today. Christian leaders constantly reference the absence of these virtues but seem bereft of the knowledge of how to restore them.
Since the Apostle Paul confirmed that this well proven strategy was also working amongst other groups all over the world in his time, there is simply no reason why the opposite should be the case today. Christian leaders today need to examine honestly the content of what is being taught or preached today as it seems to be a major reason why many are no longer motivated to remain in the faith or display the Agape love that is desperately desired amongst the brethren in the Church today. It is becoming clear that whatever is being preached or taught today is not the Word of Truth as sufficient proof has revealed that growth will be recorded in body of Christ if that was the case.
Stop the slide and stem the tide of many backing out of the Faith. Feed the flock with the true Word so that the body of Christ will continue to grow in Faith and demonstrate greater levels of Agape love. That way the kingdom of God on earth will continue to experience increase as desired by Jehovah. May God continue to expose us to the true teachings of His Word through the Holy Spirit in Jesus name. Amen.