Yesterday I began a new sermon series at the Randolph Church of Christ on the New Testament book of Colossians. I began with the thanksgiving section of Paul’s letter, Colossians 1.3-8. Paul is expressing his gratitude because of what he has heard from Epaphras concerning the Christians in Colossae. Namely, what Paul has heard is that the gospel is bearing fruit among them just as it is doing elsewhere around the world.
Bearing fruit. That’s great news. That’s what every missionary, pastor, and preacher wants. That’s what every church would like to think…that the gospel is bearing fruit among them as it is doing elsewhere. But the fruit Paul is speaking of is faith and love springing from the hope they now have as a result of the gospel. This is where things take a very fast and furious unexpected turn.
That’s because the triad of gospel fruit–faith, love, and hope–is not abstract philosophy nor is it about having all the right beliefs when it comes to Christian doctrine. As one commentator rightfully put it, to have hope is “…to participate in the new redeemed life that is coming and is present in the sphere of Christ” (Marianne Meye Thompson, Colossians and Philemon, 21). Therefore, faith and love is the expression of participating in this new life in a way that is completely committed to the way of Jesus Christ (who lived this life himself).
I don’t believe that ignorance is bliss or that being ardent students of the Bible and striving for sound Christian doctrine are unimportant endeavors. But I am becoming more and more convinced that having the right beliefs on a select list of Christian doctrines is the most important priority to being faithful Christians. In fact, I really question how much such tasks have to do with being a faithful Christian in the first place. What seems to matter is that we believe Jesus Christ as the one who “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1.13-14) and live a life committed to that belief which is to live a life of faith, love, and hope.