This Sunday we start a new series of studies in the book of Colossians. We are calling this series, Colossians: The True Humanism. I looked back through my files and realized that in the past nineteen years (while at St. Patrick) I have never preached on this small yet weighty book. I think the reason is that in the grand scheme of things we look at Philippians, Galatians, or Ephesians, and the one that gets left out is Colossians. Colossians is sort of the bridesmaid to the book of Ephesians. They are similar, written around the same time, but Colossians at first glance seems like an overture to Ephesians.
Colossians, however, may be the most subversive of all the books Paul wrote. I want you to imagine what it would be like to live in this small agrarian town of Colossae in the first century: Because it is a small town, you know most of the people in the town. You know that there is a new sect of people in town who call themselves Christians and, while they seem like nice people and don’t seem to want to hurt anyone, you can’t help believe that there is something dangerous about them. Here is the reason: they say Jesus is Lord, and not Caesar. That alone is enough to get you too close to the action of the gladiatorial games! Amazingly enough, they have a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles in their community. They also seem to be undermining the societal structure that the whole empire is built upon! The latest illustration of how radical this is comes when a man named Onesimus returns to town bearing a letter from one of their key leaders. Onesimus is a run-away slave, and instead of being killed by Philemon his master (who is one of the Christians), as he should have been, he is forgiven and welcomed back as a brother!
Can you imagine what this community must have looked like to the larger community around it? Well, if you can’t, we will try in the next couple of months to unpack how radically different the Christian Community is, and also attempt to get a grasp of how Christianity makes you human. Yes, we will have the difficult task of deconstructing a lot of myths about Christianity to show, in bold relief, that real human thriving is found by following a man who hung on a cross, but this is what we will attempt to do. I hope you will join us!