Colossians 1:3-4 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints.
Colossians is unique among Paul’s letters in that it was written to people he had never met. (He had also never been to Rome when he wrote Romans, but there were several people there he knew personally.) He knew about the believers in Colosse because of Epaphras, who was right there with him at the time and had doubtless been telling him all about his experiences in evangelism there. Even at that remove, Paul could and did pray for the Colossian believers, because he knew from what Epaphras told him that these were his brothers and sisters in Christ. When you think about it, Paul had great confidence in the work of the Holy Spirit in imparting spiritual truth to people. We tend to think people need theological degrees before they can understand the depth and height of the Gospel, but there were no such degrees in the 1st Century and the Church had explosive growth. They understood that they were totally dependent on the Holy Spirit, but we tend to rely on our programs and institutions, and we are far weaker and poorer for it. Paul heard from Epaphras that the Colossians had faith in Christ and love for the saints (that is, other believers, not some special category of “super Christians”) and that was enough for him. Particularly where people have limited access to the Bible heretical teaching can be a real problem, as has shown up in China and elsewhere, but even in such places the Holy Spirit is remarkably faithful. We would do well to get it through our heads and hearts that it doesn’t really depend on us. God will use us, and He delights to do so, but as Don Francisco sings so memorably, “He could have used the dog next door, if He’d been so inclined.” God has a plan that is in some way different for each of His children, so we need to trust Him with it not only for ourselves but for others as well.
The vast majority of the people to whom I’ve ministered over the years are not in this physical vicinity at this point. That shouldn’t make me anxious, but rather prompt me to prayer. God can shepherd them far better than I ever could! I couldn’t begin to name them all individually, but I can pray for them by categories and more personally as God brings them to mind. Just yesterday we heard from some of that “far-flung flock,” and I do pray for them to be guarded and guided in faith and obedience. Some are going through difficult life transitions. I pray that they would not lose sight of Jeremiah 29:11, which they heard from me, but have peace and joy as they seek what God’s plan is for them right now. I need to remember that we are indeed part of one Body, and that our Head is equally concerned for us all.
Father, in thinking about it I realize that I have spiritual children in quite a few countries. That’s amazing! Most of those are people You brought here for a season and then took elsewhere, but some were birthed into Your Body right here. Thank You that I don’t have to be anxious about any of them, but can trust Your Holy Spirit to do in and for them all that they need. I pray that You would guide my every interaction with them so that together we may be built up as You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!