Stephen Caswell © 1999
The Danger of Standing Alone
A few winters ago, heavy snows hit North Carolina.
Following a wet, six-inch snowfall, it was interesting to see the effect along Interstate 40.
Next to the highway stood several large groves of tall, young pine trees.
The branches were bowed down with the heavy snow--so low that branches from one tree were often leaning against the trunk or branches of another.
Where trees stood alone, however, the effect of the heavy snow was different.
The branches had become heavier and heavier, and since there were no other trees to lean against, the branches snapped.
They lay on the ground, dark and alone in the cold snow.
When the storms of life hit, we need to be standing close to other Christians.
The closer we stand, the more we will be able to hold up.
/-- Carl G. Conner, Elizabeth City, North Carolina./
Last Sunday morning we looked at /Paul's Partners/.
We saw the men who served with Paul in spreading the Gospel.
They ministered in all sorts of ways for the Lord.
Some wrote letters, some prayed, some were sent on errands for the apostle.
Others stayed with Paul and served in Rome.
They faithfully carried out their ministries as part of a team serving the same Lord.
That's what the Church's ministry is all about people working together in partnership for the Lord.
Actually it's closer than that, we are all part of one family, the family of God.
In today's passage Paul deals with the /Family Fellowship/.
He closes the epistle with practical commands that assist fellowship in the family.
Paul gives four commands to the Church regarding this:
*Colossians 4:15* /Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house./
*/Firstly/*/ /Paul commands the believers at Colassae to greet the brethren at Laodicea.
The Laodicean Church was situated about 10 miles north west of Colossae.
Because believers are all part of one family they should be warm to one another and encourage each other.
The word */greet/* ajspazomai means */to embrace in one's arms, to welcome or salute/*.
Christians should be warm and friendly to one another.
Christ commanded us to love one another and this love must be extended to all believers.
We shouldn't put up barriers between ourselves and other brethren.
There is only one Church that belongs to God even though there are many denominations.
All those who have been born again of the Holy Spirit are in that Church.
The common greeting in the Middle East was a kiss of greeting and warm hug.
This is seen from many of Paul's epistles.
*1 Thessalonians 5:26* /Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss./
What's the difference between a holy kiss and an ordinary kiss?
About 2 minutes!
In Australia a warm handshake means the same thing.
Friendship should be shared within the local church to believers in other churches.
Warmth Rather than Light
People join churches more because they want warmth than light.
We like to think it's our stunning proclamation of the truth that keeps them in the pews.
Sermons may get them into church the first time, but what keeps them coming are friendships that foster inward awareness and support.
/-- Jack R. Van Ens,/
The */second/* thing we observe here is that Christians were enjoying fellowship in their homes.
Nymphas had a Church meeting in his home.
Many references to this practice can be found in the New Testament.
For the first three hundred years the Christian Church met in private homes.
In many countries today this practice is still observed because of necessity, like China and North Korea.
Many large Churches today had their beginnings in a house church situation.
Certainly our homes can be used for Bible studies and hospitality.
After all the Church is not the building */but the people/*.
The word */Church/* ejkklhsia means */called out ones/*.
I think it is great when people use their homes for Christian fellowship.
After all, we are all family.
Homes are made for families.
Christian friendship and fellowship spring out of love.
This command to greet one another is based on our love for the brethren.
Fellowship - No Passive Worship
The fellowship of the body is always two-way; receiving and giving.
Wanting only to receive is not fellowship.
We may not all be preachers, but when we come to worship we nevertheless bring what we have.
There must be help of the pulpit from the pew.
Sitting and looking on will not do.
We must give others to drink, not necessarily by speaking, but maybe by quiet prayer.
Every member of the Body has a ministry, and every member is called to function in the place appointed by the Lord.
It makes no difference who does the work if the glory is His.
/Watchman Nee /
Friendship and fellowship are an integral part of the Christian Church/.
/God never intended for us to stand alone.
/Do you greet others in the fellowship?
Do you look out for new folk and welcome them?
Do you open your home up to others?
Do you use it for the Lord's work?* */You should!
*/After dealing with greetings Paul addressed the need for: /*
*Colossians 4:16* / Now when this epistle is read among you, *see that* it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea./
Speak God's Word/
Paul's second command relates to the Scriptures.
He told them */to read/* this letter before the whole Church of Colossae.