For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh. (Colossians 2:1)
Paul wrote to the Christians in the city of Colosse (and the city of Laodicea, which was near Colosse), and we normally call that letter Colossians. Here in the second chapter of that letter, Paul wanted his readers to know that he had a great conflict for them. What was Paul’s great conflict?
First, this great conflict was inside Paul (I have for you). It wasn’t that Paul fought with others about the Colossian Christians. Paul described his spiritual warfare and heartfelt care for the Colossians as a great conflict. There were times when Paul had conflict with others, but this wasn’t one of those times.
Paul cared about the Christians in Colosse and Laodicea so much that their spiritual health became the matter of a great conflict inside of him. We can think of the way that a father agonizes inside when one of his children is in danger or in need. That was how deeply Paul cared about them.
Paul wanted their hearts to be encouraged and wanted them to live in unity (Colossians 2:2). He wanted them to remain steadfast in their following of Jesus (Colossians 2:5-7). He was worried that they would be cheated by empty philosophies and traditions of men (Colossians 2:8). Looking through the rest of Colossians, you can see other things that concerned Paul.
What was amazing about all this is that Paul had this great conflict without having previously met the Christians in Colosse and Laodicea. He called them those who have not seen my face in the flesh.
Paul’s love and concern could go further than the people in his immediate presence. As an apostle and a pastor he cared about the spiritual well being of people he had yet to meet.
Is your circle of concern too small? There are persecuted believers in many parts of the world you have never met, but you can care about them and pray for them. There are others who are in danger of false teaching and practices. You can also pray for them, and do good for them if you ever have opportunity.
If God found use for Paul’s spiritual battle on behalf of others, perhaps God may find use for the way you can care about and pray for your brothers and sisters in need that you have never met.