It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own little corner of Christianity. We sometimes forget that “the church” consists of the entire body of believers, and not just the building we go to on Sundays. We can even get so wrapped up in what we see God doing in our immediate Christian community that the idea of God working anywhere else seems like a weird, foreign concept.
However, the gospel grows the church body wherever it goes. Whoever hears and believes the gospel message of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and trusts Him for forgiveness of sins and eternal life is someone who joins the church body. Getting reminders of how the good news is received in distant places helps us keep God’s perspective and His larger mission in mind. Knowing how God is transforming lives in other locations also helps guard us from thinking that God only works through “my church” or “my pastor”.
As Paul opened his letter to the believers in Colossae, he remind them that they are part of a much larger church community:
You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God’s grace in the truth. You learned this from Epaphras, our much loved fellow slave. He is a faithful minister of the Messiah on your behalf, and he has told us about your love in the Spirit.
The Colossian believers were part of the larger church body because they heard the gospel and recognized God’s grace in the truth. They were brought the message by Epaphras, who was faithfully using his gifts and talents to proclaim the gospel.
Since Epaphras was now working side by side with Paul, he had the opportunity to share the gospel with other people in new locations. Since their work for Christ had them working in multiple communities, both Paul and Epaphras could see the larger family picture. They wanted the Colossians to see themselves as part of a whole, and not just an isolated patch of believers.
Do we remember that we’re part of a much larger community? If you haven’t looked outside your church’s bulletin in a while, take a look at the work that organizations like Voice of the Martyrs or Compassion International are doing. Go for a larger picture our believing family, and ask God to help you see His family like He does.