Colossians 4:16 – And when this epistle is read among you,cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans.
How often has Colossians 4:16 been preached about in the nearly 2000 years since the Apostle Paul wrote it? Probably not often. It seems like one of those “nuts and bolts” sentences Paul often uses to close out one of his letters. We usually read such verses quickly or skip them altogether. But I think this verse contains ecclesiastical dynamite that explodes a popular trend among those who confess Christ.
According to a 2017 Barna poll 10% of Americans report that they love Jesus but not the church, and the percentage is rising quickly. That is not news to me. I talk to a lot of people about Jesus. Many people respond that they are spiritual. And many of these “spiritual ones” tell me that they do not go to church. I understand a lot of people who have left Living Word Church over the years do not attend church anywhere.
As Colossians 4:16 indicates, one of the main reasons to go to church is to hear a public reading of the Bible. At the time Paul wrote Colossians the public reading and explaining of the Scriptures was a practice that went back hundreds of years to the time of Ezra. Ezra ordered an elevated wooden platform be constructed in the ruined city of Jerusalem, so the Word of God could be read and explained. At the time the Jews possessed little as a people. They had neither Temple nor walls around their devasted capital city. But they could and should gather in an open place around a wooden stage to hear God’s Word. The Bible says Ezra’s crowd responded to the Word, “Amen! Amen!”
Gathering around a platform to hear the Word of God is also a tradition that is deeply grounded in American tradition. Didn’t the great spiritual revivals of American history take place when people travelled from far and wide to gather in churches, in fields, under tents, in arenas to hear the great readers and explainers of the Word of God: Edwards, Whitefield, Finney, Sunday, and Graham among so many others?
May we have such a spiritual awakening in our own day. We will if we gather around the Word of God as it’s read and explained by men and women of God.