Summary: Exposition of Col. 2:1–7
The Struggle of Effective Ministers
“I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine–sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:1–7).
What are the goals that each of us should be struggling for in our own lives and also in the church?
Often, when pastors are trained for ministry, they are instructed to develop a philosophy of ministry statement, a vision statement for a church, and other ministry goals and guidelines. It’s the same for people who take leadership classes in school. Having a vision and goals is very important.
This is what Solomon, the wisest man on earth, said, “Without vision people perish” (Prov. 29:18 KJV). Everybody needs goals, especially those who minister in the church.
I heard the story of one child who often got in trouble both in school and youth group. One day during youth group, the youth pastor began to talk about God as the Creator and how he had a wonderful plan for each of the students’ lives. With that he challenged them to begin to pray about God’s plan. The student who normally was a problem kid and was failing many of his classes happened to be there that day. However, this time he was paying attention and took the youth pastor’s challenge to heart by beginning to pray. That following week the student kept having dreams at night, and in his dreams he saw himself as a medical doctor. He came back to youth group that next Sunday and told his youth pastor about his dreams and how he felt that God was calling him to be a doctor. From that point on, the student who was getting in trouble at school and failing classes became a “straight-A student” through junior high, high school, and college. He got into medical school and eventually became a doctor.
The problem with this student was that he had no vision; he had no knowledge of God’s plans for him and for that reason he cast off restraint (Prov. 29:18 NIV). He just did whatever he wanted and it led to destruction and failure.
This is true not only for individuals but also for local churches. Paul was writing to the Colossians, Laodiceans, and others who had not seen him (Col. 2:1), and he was sharing the goals he had for them—the goals he struggled to see manifest in their lives.
What is a biblical vision for the church? What are the type of goals each church member should have for themselves and those they minister to? We learn something of this as we look at Colossians 2:1–5. Consider what Paul says:
I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.
Paul tells us the “purpose” behind his struggles for those he was writing to (v. 2). This is a text about a biblical vision for the church, for each small group, and for each individual. We learn something about Paul’s apostolic struggle, and therefore what we as a church should be struggling and aiming for.
It should be noted that this struggle is not only for pastors or those with a public ministry. As we know, Paul had never been to the church of Colosse (Col. 2:1). He was imprisoned in Rome and yet he still was struggling for them. The word “struggle” in the original language is agon, from which we get the word “agony.” It was used of athletes in the Olympic games agonizing and fighting to win the prize.
In the same way, each member of the church must agonize for these goals to be actualized in God’s church. This agony is not only for our individual churches, but for all churches because we can agonize and struggle like Paul, even for congregations we have never been to (cf. Eph. 6:18). We can do this by prayer as Paul mentioned in Chapter 1 (vv. 9–13). We can do this by suffering for the gospel (1:24). We can do this by teaching God’s Word with the intention of making mature disciples in Christ (1:28–29).