Summary: Exposition of Col. 4:2–6
The Mission-Driven Life
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:2–6).
How do we live a mission-driven life?
Often, when people prepare for a mission trip, they start going through rigorous training. They have days devoted to prayer, days of fasting, days of studying the Word of God, etc., in order to prepare. However, the reality is we are always on mission; there are always people around us who need to be ministered to. Therefore, we should always be living a mission-centered life wherever God has placed us. Essentially, there should be no change when we go on a mission trip because we are already breathing mission—breathing the kingdom of God.
In this text, Paul is calling the Colossians, and therefore us, to live a mission-centered life. We see this call in his encouragement for them to partner in his ministry through praying for open doors and his preaching of the Word of God. Also, in the way he encourages them to be wise in the way they “act toward outsiders” (Col. 4:5). He is essentially calling these Christians to be missional in their daily lives.
It should be noted that most Christians are not called to leave home and go to other nations in order to go on missions. God places Christians in a family, a company, a school, or a workplace to be a light to the world (Matt. 5:14). The Scripture is full of people whom God placed in what might seem to be a “secular position” in order to be missional. We saw this with Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon. We are all called to live a mission-driven life, whether at home or abroad.
A missional Christian is a Christian whose focus is seeing the kingdom of God come. They are not distracted from this aim by their schoolwork, their job, or their family life. They realize that God has placed them on this earth for a purpose, and that purpose is to be mission-centered. Right before Christ ascended into heaven, he said this to his disciples:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:19–20).
The missional Christian understands that God has sent them to make disciples and the world is their mission field. Wherever they are placed, they realize it is their call to be actively involved in the great commission.
As Paul is finishing up his letter to the Colossians, he leaves them with a few missional exhortations. He exhorts them in their prayer life, their daily conduct, and their conversations. These are three areas in which we must daily pursue the work of missions.
Big Question: What are characteristics of the mission-driven life and how can we develop them?
Devoted Prayer Is a Characteristic of the Mission-Driven Life
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (Col. 4:2–4).
Devotion in prayer is a characteristic of a mission-driven life. Throughout the gospels Christ taught the disciples the importance of prayer. On several occasions, it seems that he taught them the Lord’s Prayer (cf. Matt. 6:9–13; Luke 11:1–4). He also taught them the importance of faith in their prayers (Matt. 17:20). He focused on prayer in his discipleship of them because he knew that without prayer it would be impossible to fulfill the great commission. The kingdom of God comes through prayer.
Therefore, if we are going to be missional Christians it is necessary for us to develop a devotion to prayer as well. We saw this both with the early church and the apostles who turned the world upside down. Look at what Acts 2:42 said: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
As the early church was devoted to prayer, God added to their number. Acts 2:47 says, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Prayer was essential to the early church that spread the Word of God throughout Israel and the Gentile world. It was the same with the apostles. In Acts 6:3–4 they said,