Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:1-2)
The church at Colosse had a long list of saints who excelled in their service to Christ. Paul addresses the people of God as faithful brethren as being individuals who could be trusted for their pattern of faith and love of truth. Not only were they obedient servants of the Lord, but their lives also reflected an allegiance to the cause of the kingdom and the work of the church. Paul includes in his letter commendations for Epaphras who he called a fellow servant and a faithful minister of Christ. This was a man the church could depend on for his commitment to the work of the church in Colosse. As a faithful brother, Epaphras was a man who showed by his love of the truth that whenever there was a need to be met in the vineyard of God, he would stand ready to help.
There were many other people Paul commended for their service to the work of the Lord. Tychicus was a faithful minister and was very useful for Paul to keep the church in Colosse informed both on their work and the efforts of Paul. Onesimus was a slave that had run away from his master, Philemon. In a providential act of kindness, the slave came in contact with Paul and obeyed the gospel. The apostle wrote a letter to Philemon exhorting him to receive his slave back as a fellow citizen of the kingdom and now commends Onesimus as a faithful and beloved brother. At one time the slave was undependable. Now he is one whose name is preserved through the ages as a man who could be depended upon in the work of God. Paul lists others who were helpful to him: Aristarchus, John Mark, Jesus who is called Justus, Luke, Demas, the brethren in Laodicea and Nymphas, and the church that was in his house. These were faithful brethren who by their diligent efforts were blessings to the church at Colosse because of their willingness to be counted ready to serve.
The local congregation is much like an orchestra. In every orchestra, many parts make up the symphony of instruments. Imagine a conductor trying to create music when many of the individuals of the orchestra cannot be relied upon to come to practice, bring their instruments, or be a part of the symphony. It would be extremely difficult for the music to be harmonious when the brass section fails to show up. If the string section does not bring their instruments it would be of little use for them to be there. Great music is made when everyone is doing their part. Successful orchestras come from individuals committed to the work of the symphony and the music. What the church needs today are faithful brethren committed to the work of the church. The church at Colosse had some great people who were dedicated to the work of the kingdom. They were men and women who could be depended upon.
Faithful brethren are saints who can be relied on to be involved in the church. Their attendance is not a sporadic event that only happens if something else does not come in the way. In the world of pleasure-seeking, so many things can take the mind away from the cause of Christ. The local church will have a difficult time growing when its members cannot be relied upon to show up. Often if they do show up they come late causing disruption. Bible class teachers cannot come to class on time. Company coming over or visits by family members keep people from coming to church. Shopping excursions go late on Sunday and services are missed. A real plague in the church is the misguided notion that a job excuses one from assembling with the saints. There are plenty of excuses given why the brethren cannot be depended upon. It comes down to a matter of allegiance. What is first in the heart of the saint is what is seen in the life of the Christian.
The church at Colosse was blessed with men and women who were committed to the cause of Christ in a world that was not accepting them. They were faithful – not only because they were saints – but they could be depended upon to be involved in the work of the church. Homes were places of hospitality, conversations led to talking about the gospel, invitations were extended from hands that were working in the kingdom, and hearts were guided by their deep love for God. What the church needs today are more faithful brethren who are willing to work – not play.