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Aug 11, 2019

Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:7-18

Shakespeare wrote: "Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel."  Solomon wrote: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Prov 27:6) and "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Prov 27:17).  Our friends are crucial to the quality of our lives.  With good friends we are helped immeasurably; without them we are profoundly diminished.

We might have the tendency to overlook passages like Colossians 4:7-18 without considering the implications of this closing greeting.  Christian community is not a peripheral element in our Christian experience.  Our relationships with each other are utterly necessary for health of our souls.

The basis for the connection between Christians is not personality or hobbies or economic status.  The foundation of our relationship is, first, identity in Christ.  Often Paul speaks of Christians as being "in Christ" or "in the Lord."  The bond of being in Christ is more profound than flesh and blood.

Second, Christians are bound to each other by work in Christ's kingdom.  Repeatedly in his letters Paul refers, by name, to "fellow-workers" (cf. Rom 16:3; 2 Cor 8:23; Phil 4:3; Col 4:11; Philemon 24).  Christian friendship is based on diligent work in the kingdom of Christ.

Third, Christian friendship is forged in suffering.  Paul speaks of "fellow prisoners" … Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7), Aristarchus (Col 4:10), Epaphras (Philemon 23).

The Scriptures call us to a deep-rooted community that is often lacking in our superficial culture.  Let us go deeper in the reality of our community together for the name of Christ.