Rather later than I originally intended, here are some reflections on chapter 4 of Paul's Letter to the Colossians. I went through chapters 1-3 a couple of months ago, not at a deep theological level but just reading and seeing what struck me. Click through to have a look at these posts if you like, and then we shall move on to chapter 4.
The final chapter of Colossians starts with another of those 'Lord, fix us!' prayers that I mentioned back in chapter 1. When I pray and, to be honest, when I hear others praying, it's often along the lines of asking God to change situations so they are more in line with our wishes. Yet in the New Testament, there are (it seems to me) far more prayers and requests for prayers focused on us being more faithful. So Paul says in Col 4:3-4:
Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
Not a peep from Paul, at least not in this passage, about how he'd really rather not be in prison! Instead his request is focused on being more useful for God, a theme which he develops in the next couple of verses:
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
'Attractive' is how the New Living Translation interprets the Greek phrase 'seasoned with salt', drawing on salt's properties as a flavour enhancer. Is our conversation always 'seasoned with salt'?
The rest of the chapter is quite personal, with Paul passing on greetings from various people and asking the Colossians to welcome some of his companions who are on the way to Colosse. There's another marvellous prayer that I want to pick out, in verse 12:
Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God.
What a prayer! Dear reader, may you be strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following God's will, and please pray the same for me as you read this.