Though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit. Colossians 2:5
As the novel coronavirus marched across the globe, health experts advised increased physical distance between people as a means to slow the spread. Many countries asked their citizens to self-quarantine or shelter in place. Organizations sent employees home to work remotely if they could, while others suffered a financially debilitating loss of employment. Like others, I participated in church and small-group meetings through digital platforms. As a world, we practiced new forms of togetherness despite being physically disconnected.
It isn’t just the internet that lets us maintain a sense of connection. We connect to one another as members of the body of Christ through the Spirit. Paul expressed this notion centuries ago in his letter to the Colossians. Though he hadn’t personally founded their church, he cared deeply for them and their faith. And even though Paul couldn’t be with them in person, he reminded them that he was “present with [them] in spirit” (Colossians 2:5).
We can’t always be with those we love for financial, health, or other practical reasons, and technology can help fill that gap. Yet any form of virtual connection pales in comparison to the “togetherness” we can experience as fellow members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). In such moments, we can, like Paul, rejoice in one another’s firmness of faith and, through prayer, encourage each other to fully “know the mystery of God, namely, Christ” (Colossians 2:2).
How have you experienced a sense of connection with other members of the body of Christ? Who needs your prayers of encouragement today?
Jesus, thank You for being with me even when no other person can be physically present. Thank You for the connection You give me to others through the Holy Spirit.
The significance of Paul’s relationship with the believers in Jesus in Colossae is noted in his word choices: “I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea” (Colossians 2:1). The words “how hard I am contending” are a translation of hēlíkos, “how great” (see also James 3:5), and agṓn, a place where people assembled “to celebrate solemn games.” Figuratively, agṓn referred to the contests, fights, and races that took place there. Paul used this word in 2 Timothy 4:7, where it’s translated as “fight”: “I have fought the good fight.” Though Paul was in prison (or under house arrest), that didn’t diminish his concern for the spiritual well-being of the Colossian believers. His prayers for them were constant (Colossians 1:3, 9), and his teaching was meant to help them battle the spiritual forces that lurked among them to turn them away from the supremacy of Christ (2:8–23).