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As he does in many of his letters, as Paul draws his letter to the Colossians to a close he adds some personal comments and greetings.

As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.  For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here. Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me. Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas. (Colossians 4:7-14)

It is easy to simply skip over these words, telling ourselves that this is just “personal stuff” and a common courtesy being extended in the closing of this letter. But is there nothing that might be of benefit to us in reflecting, just a little, on these words? Let me suggest a few things.

It is worth noting that even the “great apostle Paul” was apparently not a lone ranger. This is, perhaps, a startling observation when first made, particularly in light of the common view of Paul. It’s easy to default into thinking of Paul out there, on the mission field, on his own. A brave solitary soldier of the cross, laying down his life for the kingdom.

Look over the language that Paul uses to speak of those he names. Some know all about what is going on his life–he is fully known by these friends. Some he identifies as fellow laborers or fellow prisoners–he sees them as sharing equally in what he is experiencing.

Seeing those things, I am nudged to think about my own journey in faith. Are there any who “know the full situation” of what is going on with me in my journey with Jesus? Am I that transparent? Accessible? Are there any who I rely on as “fellow laborers” with me in what I am doing? Do I really live as part of body of believers or am I a bit too “on my own”?

Although Paul is not purposefully teaching about life in the community of faith in these closing words, what he does share opens my eyes to see myself, in the body, in fresh ways. These greetings move from being just a common courtesy at the close of the letter to a true challenge to engage in this life in Jesus in ways that reflect much more of Paul’s own thinking.

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