"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you." Colossians 1:3
Paul loved the Church. Paul was thankful to God for the Church. In many of his letters to the churches in each community, he began by expressing his thankfulness. The church in Colossae was no different. Paul begins his letter by saying, "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you." I find two very important elements in this one verse. First, Paul was thankful to God for the Church. He was thankful for what had been received from God...the church...but he also praised God in his thankfulness. The second element I find in this verse is that Paul consistently prayed for the Church. Paul understood the importance and the value of prayer and of thanksgiving. In Colossians 1, Paul acknowledged this church's growth in its faith, in its love, and in its hope in Jesus. He acknowledged the church's passion for the gospel. Paul also prayed for the church's spiritual well-being, for spiritual wisdom and understanding.
As Christ followers, I wonder if we love the Church like Paul loved the Church. I wonder if we pray for the Church the way Paul prayed for the Church. If we are Christ followers, the Church must be important to us. Why? The Church was important to Jesus. In Ephesians 5, Paul urges husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. 1 John 3:16 says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." Who is "us?" The "us" in 1 John 3:16 is the Church...the children of God through Jesus Christ. If we call ourselves Christ followers, then we need to love the Church the way Jesus loved the Church. We need to pray for the Church the way Paul prayed for the Church. I am thankful for the Church. Does my love prove I am thankful for the Church? Does my prayer life prove that I am thankful for the Church?