Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Hijacked by a verse 1)

Currently I am studying Colossians and a verse jumped out at me which receives only passing commentary because it seems straight forward.  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.(Col 2:5).  The apostle, who is under house arrest, writes this at other times too when he is separated from his readers.

What struck me in our continuing isolation was this contrast between absent in body/present in spirit. I looked up how The Message expresses it in contemporary language: I'm a long way off, true, and you may never lay eyes on me but believe me, I am on your side, right beside you. I am delighted to hear of the careful and orderly ways you conduct our affairs and impressed with the solid substance of your faith in Christ'. It sharpens the contrast between being a long way off and believe me, I am on your side, right beside you. 

I think you can say these words in two ways.  First as a good friend.  When you care for somebody who you cannot be with yet want to encourage them this is a good way to show empathy and demonstrate imaginative engagement. It's the kind of thing we say when we want friends to know that we have heard good things about them and are rooting for them in their situation. I'm right beside you.

But these are words we choose to say to those who are good friends.  We can't imagine saying them to people outside our circle of friendship.  That flies in the face of human nature.  We choose our friends and give encouragement when they are absent.  Does this fill out the meaning of 'being present in the spirit'.  No! Because the apostle Paul is experiencing something deeper.......

No comments: