You might ask what a two-thousand year letter has to say to us today!? Good question – the recipients of this letter lived at a completely different time and place. Reading the letter doesn’t help right away either. It’s like hearing one side of a telephone conversation. In this case, it’s worse, because the end we hear is set in a completely different culture. So what does this letter have to do with us?
The short answer is this: like us, the Colossians loved Christ, but weren’t one hundred percent committed. They lived in a small city and followed an obscure religion. They were facing lots of the same pressures that we face today. Paul writes a letter to set some things straight. It wasn’t easy to follow Christ in Colosse. It was okay to worship a god, and it was okay to worship Jesus. People worshiped many deities. Then, like now, it was considered wrong to insist that your god was better than others. They faced the same pressure that we do. It’s not at all wrong to worship Jesus. It’s okay as long as you don’t claim that Jesus is better than any other religion. Their world was a lot like ours – a pluralistic world in which Christians were considered narrow and intolerant.
When we read the Bible, it begins to look a little out of step with our world. It makes claims that seem a little bold. I think that’s one of the reasons why we face the struggle above: it’s not that we don’t love Jesus; it’s just that it’s hard to be a hundred percent committed in today’s world. There are too many pressures. That’s where the book of Colossians comes in!