Tag Archives: Colossians 4

Seasonal Companions

My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)
Colossians 4:10 (NIV)

“There are friends who are friends for a season, and there are friends who are friends for life.” Thus said a  wise woman to me while I was a Freshman in college. It was the first time I remember really thinking about the purpose and tenure of friendship in life’s journey.

Everyone knows that Jesus had twelve disciples, but Luke records that there was a wider circle of seventy-two disciples that Jesus sent out (Luke 10:1). Among the twelve it was only Peter, James, and John that Jesus called out to join Him when He was transfigured, when He raised Jairus’ daughter, and when He was in His deepest despair in Gethsemane. Like most of us, Jesus had concentric circles of relationship from the intimacy of His inner circle of three to the wider and less intimate relationships He had with the twelve, the seventy-two, and an even larger group of 500 followers to whom He appeared after His resurrection.

Along my life journey, I’ve had a number of friends, mentors, and protégés who became part of my “inner circle” during a particular stretch. Looking back, I observe a certain ebb and flow of pattern and purpose in relationships. As the wise woman stated, some paths converge for a season and then organically lead in opposite directions. Conflict, sadly, severed some relationships. In a few cases, I’ve realized it’s best to leave be what was. In others, reconciliation brought differing degrees of restoration. There is longing to experience reconciliation in yet others when the season is right. Then there are a few in which time ran out, and only memories both bitter and sweet will remain with me for the rest of my earthly journey.

Most readers of Paul’s letters skip through the personal greetings with which he typically tagged his correspondence at the beginning and/or end. This morning, it was one of these oft-ignored greetings at the end of the chapter that jumped off the page at me. Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, sends his greetings to the believers at Colossae. There is a back story there.

Mark, otherwise known as John Mark, had been a boy who was part of Jesus’ wider circle of followers. Mark’s mother was a prominent woman who also followed Jesus and likely supported His ministry financially. When Peter escaped from prison it was to the house of Mark’s mother that Peter fled. It was Mark’s cousin, Barnabas, who brought the enemy turned believer, Saul (aka Paul) into the fold of Jesus’ followers. Barnabas and Mark were part of Paul’s inner circle on his first missionary journey.

Then, it all fell apart.

In the middle of the journey, Mark left Paul and Barnabas and went back home. Paul felt abandoned and betrayed. Years later when it came time to make a return journey, Barnabas wanted to take Mark along. Paul, still angry that Mark wimped out and abandoned them, would have none of it. There was a big fight. There was a bitter separation. Paul went one way with Silas. Barnabas went the other way with Mark. The season of Paul, Barnabas, and Mark was over.

As Paul writes his letter to the Colossians it has been many years since the conflict with Barnabas and Mark. Paul is in prison and is nearing the end of his life. Mark is with him. We don’t know how the reconciliation happened or what brought them back together again, but Mark is there sending warm greetings through Paul. It’s nice to know that sometimes in this life we get over our conflicts. We let go of the past and embrace the present. Seasons of friendship can come back around.

In the quiet this morning I’m looking back and thinking of all the companions I’ve had along my journey. I’m whispering a prayer of gratitude for each one brought to my life and journey, despite where the ebb and flow of relationship may have led. And, in a few cases, I’m praying for the season when the journey might lead divergent paths back together, like Paul and Mark.

Being Watchful

people in a mall

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Back in college I had an assignment for my Acting I class that took me to the local mall. The assignment was simply to watch people. Not just to merely look at them, but to really watch them. Acting is about creating believable characters on stage, so our assignment was to watch how real people walk. We were to observe how different people move and carry themselves. What are their quirks? How do they relate to other people.

I thought about that assignment as I read the admonition to be watchful in today’s chapter. I have found that people largely make their way through life’s journey unaware. People are neither observant nor considerate of others. I find people giving little thought to what is happening around them nor how they are engaged in what is happening.

Jesus was fond of saying, “They who have ears, let them hear.” The lesson is clear that there is a difference between merely hearing and really listening and understanding what is going on around you. We just finished going through the Book of Acts and it ended with Paul quoting the prophet Isaiah on this same subject:

“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.

Today, I’m thankful for my education in theatre and the life lessons it provided, such learning to be watchful, observant, and considerate of what is happening around me. I am thinking about my progressive hearing loss, how each year the whole world sounds a little bit more like Charlie Brown’s teacher, and how important it is for me to consciously listen. I’m thinking about my need to be more watchful and aware of others, their circumstances, and their needs.

Chapter-a-Day Colossians 4

from bepster via Flickr

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:6 (NLT)

This past week I was on a marathon business trip with my colleague, Bene’. The eight day trip included six straight days packed with long customer service  and escalated customer training sessions for diverse teams. Our group had never worked with many of these teams before. Typically, Bene’ and I would arrive at our designated training room a few minutes prior to starting and my job was making sure all of our technology hooked up and worked seamlessly with the client’s presentation equipment. This is sometimes a quick and easy task, but more often than not there are glitches and obstacles to overcome.

As I fiddled with chords, adaptors, mice, remotes, and other inanimate paraphernalia, Bene’ was always in conversation with the manager, supervisor or training participants. I have always been impressed with Bene’s easy ability to converse with anyone. I have always regarded myself as a decent conversationalist, but Bene’ is a rock star. A smile on her face and a positive attitude that has her always on the edge of laughter, she is able to quickly put people at ease and draw them into the most amazing conversations. I’ve learned a lot from her just eavesdropping while I wrestle with an RGB connector.

I’m afraid that in a world increasingly dependent on texting, e-mail, chat and messaging we are losing the fine art of conversation. The encouragement in today’s chapter to be a person of attractive, gracious conversation is arguably more critical today than it was when Paul dictated his letter to those following Jesus in Colosse. When most of the world communicates with one another from an impersonal, disembodied distance, the opportunity to express love through a gracious, attractive, personal conversation has never held such potent possibilities.

Chapter-a-Day Colossians 4

by indi.ca via Flickr

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

Devote [dih-voht] verb 1. to give up or appropriate to or concentrate on a particular pursuit, occupation, purpose, cause, etc.: to devote one’s time to reading.

Yesterday morning my brother asked me if I’d read a section of a book he’d asked me to read last fall. I apologized that I’d not gotten to it. Nor have I gotten to the book Wendy’s wanted me to finish for the past year or two, nor have I gotten to the book another friend gave me, or the one Taylor gave to Wendy that was then given to me. Nor did I get to the two books a fellow blogger gave me. And, I haven’t finished reading the script a fellow playwright asked me to read. ARRRRGGGHHH! CALGON, TAKE ME AWAY!

Some days when I read the morning’s chapter I’m encouraged, and other days I’m inspired. Then there are days like today when I’m convicted. When I read the simple command to devote myself to prayer, the word devote leapt of the page and pierced my heart.

What am I devoted to? What will I readily sacrifice other things for, in order that I will have the time and resources to do them? Do the things to which I say I’m devoted match my actions when it comes to devoting time, money, and energy? If you look at my life it’s certain that I’m not devoted to reading, and I’m pretty sure you could make the case that I’m not devoted to prayer either. There are a lot of worthwhile pursuits to which I’m not devoted, and some rather trivial ones to which my actions prove I am.

God, you say I’m supposed to be devoted to prayer and I guess there’s no time like the present. Forgive me for being devoted to silly insignificant things while ignoring eternal things. Help my devotion to be focused on the right things as I journey through this day.