The apostle called Paul wrote many letters to the churches he had served on his missionary journeys. I have never written back to a former church where I have served. Of course the churches he wrote to were new churches who could well use a word from him to encourage and sometimes challenge them. Some of his writings were to answer some questions someone had told him about and trusted him to give a true and honest answer.
Paul wrote at least two letters to two churches where he had never been. They were the Church of Rome and the Church at Colosse. Romans is a long and helpful book on the Christian life. Colossians is a much shorter book and it is a book of encouragement.
I once wrote a letter to a church that had called a new pastor whom I knew real well having served a church in the same town with him and knew he was a good solid pastor where he had served. I hoped my letter would maybe help him to win their confidence and following. But that is the only one I can ever remember writing.
Today I am going to deal with his letter to the church at Colosse. I have always heard that the Colossian Church was the smallest to receive a letter from Paul. As I mentioned before, he had never been there in his life. He came within a few miles of it when he made his first missionary journey. In that day and time what we call a short drive was a long, long walk. Even though the apostle had never been to the church he knew their pastor.
Note Colossians 1:7-8, "As ye also learned from Epaphras our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ. Who declared unto us your love in the spirit." What a great testimony their pastor gave about them.
My last church that I pastored before I came to Blackwater had a grand reputation in the town where it was. I had a man who was a member of another larger church in our town who knew our church since its beginning. He said to me some time after I went there that he had never known of the church having any big problems and they seemed to have a sweet fellowship. I learned that what he said was true. My time there was a blessing indeed.
That church had some other fine leaders and members. One for instance was their fine pastor Epaphras. He was a faithful leader and loved his people. They were a people any pastor could love and appreciate. Onesimus, the run-away slave who was converted on his flight away, went back to his owner as a Christian. Probably the owner may have been a member, too. It must have been a church of love. Paul mentions their love in the Spirit. No better commendation could have been given than they have love for one another. That is a pretty good measure of any church. We all know that every church has times of some disagreement. But if people love one another they are people who can forgive and still work together. Wouldn't it be good if we could do this and work to have a good fellowship? Paul mentioned this and he took them in as a people he prayed for.
Verses 1FF of Chapter 1 says, "We give thanks unto God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love you have for all saints; for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, and it doeth also in you, and since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth."
The church members at one time did not really know of Christ but they came to know him through the preaching and teaching of the Word. They were true and faithful in their doctrine or teaching. They truly had become Christians as they learned of the death of Christ to save them from their sins. They truly had believed in Jesus Christ and their lives were changed from following the flesh to be followers of the Holy Spirit. Paul, like every preacher, wanted the church to be a true church that followed and taught unbelievers about Jesus.
This letter was also to be shared with the church at Laodicea. We know of the words of the Apostle John. They were the one church of the seven churches of Asia Minor who the bible calls "lukewarm." The words to the Colossians were that they were true and faithful. What a good description of a church who was really serving the Lord.
I want the church I serve to be a faithful and loving church like the church at Colossi. I mentioned earlier that it was a small group of people. No church that serves the Lord is a "little" church. It can be small in number but great in the way a good church ought to be.