Paul wraps up this letter with some final instructions to the church and then gives some personal greetings.
This last paragraph of “practical theology” is short and easy to miss, but I encourage you to give it a few moments’ thought. Paul starts by encouraging the believers to be diligent in prayer. He asks for the Colossians to pray for him - which we would expect given the fact that he is in prison. But notice what he asks them to pray for! Not for a speedy trial or a non-guilty verdict. He doesn’t ask for the jail cell to open and him to be set free. No, Paul asks that they pray for him to have plenty of opportunities to share the gospel, and that he would do so well.
He then encourages the Colossians to “Live wisely” around non-believers and to “make the most of every opportunity” (Col 4:5 NLT) to share the gospel with them.
Paul lived his life earnestly seeking to build the Kingdom of God - sharing God’s word with everyone he came across. He saw every moment as an opportunity to spread the gospel, whether he was in the market, the Temple or in prison. He wants the Colossians - and us! - to have the same outlook on life. Christ has called you and saved you so that you can be a citizen of His kingdom, and can help Him bring the world closer to Him.
Finally, Paul ends the letter with a long list of personal messages. Letters were difficult to send in ancient times, so these greetings often got “tacked on” to larger messages in the same way that my son always wants to say “Hi” when I’m talking to his grandparents on the phone. What this reminds me is that these people - Paul, his companions, the churches that he wrote to - are real people. They were not superhuman mythological figures. They were accountants and fishermen, tailors and farmers, slaves and doctors. They were just like us - they had families, jobs, worries, and challenges.
And they changed the world.
They changed it because they did exactly what Paul asked them to do - they looked for every opportunity to share the gospel they could find. They lived lives of grace and generosity. In a fallen and often hostile world, they lived like citizens of Heaven. They didn’t all travel the world like Paul - they didn’t have to. They did God’s work right where they were. Ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things.
There is no reason we can’t do that too. We serve the same God. The same Holy Spirit who lived in their hearts lives in ours. And we certainly still live in a world that badly needs the gospel.
Will you let Him use you to spread the Kingdom? Are you ready to change the world in His name? Ask Him to show you the opportunities right in front of you, and to give you the courage to take them.