"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit." (Colossians 1:3-8)
I've very recently been called to pastor a church in Warsaw, Indiana. So not too long ago my family and I packed up and moved out here from Massachusetts. And we love it. The town is great; the church is great. They've been unbelievably gracious with my family. They love us. They love Jesus. Everyone's excited. Everything is fresh and exciting and full of possibility.
And I want do really, really well. I want our church to be healthy and holy and on mission.
I want what Colossians 1:3-6 above describes. I want our church to be full of palpable, observable faith in Christ Jesus. I want us to be known for our love for ALL the saints. And I want the hope that we have laid up in heaven to be fueling everything we do. The gospel was bearing fruit and increasing in that Colossian church. People were hearing and believing the grace and truth of God. And the fruit of the gospel was all over the place.
And that’s what this newbie pastor wants for this great church God has given me to serve.
So how do I lead us there? If I want Colossians 1:3-6 to be happening in our church, what kind of pastor do I have to be? What kind of pastor does God use to accomplish this kind of work?
Verse 7 introduces us to Pastor Epaphras, who God used to start and pastor this church in Colossae. Here's my favorite thing about Epaphras: we have no idea how gifted, personable, educated or experienced he was. In fact, we know almost nothing about him.
All we know from the book of Colossians is that he preached the gospel and he prayed hard.
We know from verses 7 and 8 that he told people of the grace of God in truth. He preached the gospel.
And he prayed hard. Colossians 4:12 says: Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
This is what Epaphras was known for. This is how he led his church. He preached the gospel. And he prayed hard.
That is such good news to me.
Because every day I'm confronted again with my own deficiencies. I have big dreams for our church. And I want to lead her really, really well. And so I will always want to be (and often work toward being) more educated, polished, wise, and personable than I am. I will always want to be more gifted than I am.
You will too. So this is good news for both of us.
Because at the end of the day, we're not called to be educated, polished, wise, personable or gifted. Although, those things are nice, that’s not why Paul counts Epaphras as a beloved fellow servant, and that’s not why God was bringing gospel fruit to Epaphras' church.
Epaphras was counted as a beloved, faithful minister of Christ because he preached the gospel and he prayed hard.
And God did what he always does—He did beautiful gospel work through a regular guy preaching and praying.
By God's grace, let's preach the gospel and pray hard.