Pastor E. furrowed his brow. He had some hard choices to make.
He could quit his church and leave town. The people in his church were giving him headaches anyway. He was so tired of the lies. Every day felt like an uphill battle. Besides, he knew of another church just a hundred miles down the road. In comparison, it was a more established church.
The option was appealing.
On the other hand, he could stay. Pastor E. could try to win the people’s favor by listening to their feelings and nodding empathetically while keeping his thoughts to himself. He could refrain from making any declarations of truth, and just go with the flow, all in an effort to keep the peace and make sure that everyone liked him. He could even preach some inclusive-type sermons on pleasant, unoffending topics like love and joy and peace.
Of course, neither of these choices would do. Not that there was anything wrong with preaching about love and joy and peace. It’s just that a chasm had been created in his church. False teaching had crept in. And to deny its presence, and just go about life as normal, wasn’t honest.
Pastor E. needed to take a walk. He needed time to think, time to pray. So he headed for the fields.
Standing in the sun, he watched the sheep graze. This town was once known for its wool and dyes. But that was before the Romans had built the new trade route, which bypassed Colossae altogether. Since then, the town’s commodities had dwindled. While the nearby cities of Laodicea and Hieropolis benefited greatly from Rome’s new road system, Colossae was quickly becoming an afterthought. A few farmers and businessmen remained. But it was nothing like before.
A shrinking town. A decaying economy. A compromising church.
Staying in Colossae would be a challenge. No doubt. The town’s population, with its mix of Greeks and Jews, possessed a distinct blend of heritage. The Greeks loved their philosophy while the Jews loved their laws. Together, they offered a unique spin on what Pastor E. was trying to teach.
More and more, the people practiced the latest religious trends. They became strict vegetarians, which was fine, except they started telling people that you had to be a vegetarian to go to heaven! They even started worshiping angels. Then there was the thing about the New Moon Festival. It was a strange concoction of legalism and paganism, but it was counter to what Christ taught. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Christ’s work on the cross was under siege.
Pastor E. sighed. The sheep bleated.
It’s no wonder why Jesus likened Himself to a shepherd and why He commissioned Peter to feed His sheep. Pastor E. felt this same need, deep within, to care for his sheep. Not even the booming city of Ephesus, just a hundred miles away, with its growing church, could allure him.
Sheep need a shepherd.
But Pastor E. had tried everything he could think of. He had tried reasoning with his congregants. He had tried disproving the fallacies they believed and practiced. Most of all, he had tried praying.
Again and again he prayed. But more falsehoods kept infiltrating the church. He felt helpless against these attacks on Truth.
He was in over his head, and he knew it. There was only one man on earth who could help. But the last he heard, that man was in Rome, over a thousand miles away.
Pastor E. thought of every reason not to go:
What would happen to his church in his absence?
Quickly, he remembered that it wasn’t his church. It was His church.
What if he got to Rome and couldn’t find the man he was looking for?
Well, the man was under house arrest and chained to a Roman soldier, so it wasn’t likely that he was going anywhere any time soon.
So Pastor E. did the only thing he knew to do. He prayed some more.
Then he packed his bags and headed for Rome to meet a man named Paul.
Gundry, Robert. A Survey of the New Testament: Fourth Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Colossians and Philemon. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992.
Phillips, John. Exploring Colossians and Philemon: An Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002.