We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.Colossians 1:3-6a NIV
It is likely that Paul had never personally visited Colossae, although he had previously spent several years in neighboring Ephesus. He was clearly familiar with some of the believers in Colossae, but it would seem that most of what he knew of this church was from their reputation. And Paul was thankful that their reputation was good.
Paul and Timothy had heard of their faith in Christ Jesus. They were faithful and had entrusted their lives into the keeping of the Lord. The love they had for all of God’s people was also well known. They cared deeply about each other as well as the believers located in other places. What a wonderful reputation to have, to be known for your faith and love. Many churches today claim to be faithful and loving. But how are we viewed by those on the outside? Some indeed do follow the example of Colossae. But many seem more closely aligned with the squabbling church at Corinth.
Faith and Love Built on Hope
What I find most interesting in this passage is what Paul identifies as the source of their faith and love. He said that it had sprung up from the hope they have. A hope stored up for them in heaven. A hope that is the basis for the true message of the gospel.
Hope is more that a wishful thought. Rather, it is a confident expectation. The hope we have, kept for us in heaven, is that at the end of this life we will be united with Christ, entering into his glory. It is something that we can look forward to, and hold onto in challenging times.
That hope enables me to entrust my life to the Lordship of Christ, knowing that he wants the best for me. And that he knows best how to accomplish that. And it draws me to love others who also have that hope. Knowing that we are all children of God who will spend an eternity together with him.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:13 that faith, hope and love will remain, with love being the greatest. But that love is built on the foundation of hope.