Paul received a report about the Christians at Colossae. He heard about their faith in Jesus Christ and their love for Christians. When he wrote them, he included this prayer: "... That you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding ..." (Colossians 1:9). What would be the result of spiritual wisdom and understanding? They would live in a manner worthy of the Lord.

The Christians of Galatia astounded Paul. They exchanged the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection for a fake message masquerading as good news. Paul verified that the true good news was based on God's accomplishments through Jesus Christ.

Many Galatian Christians were victimized by the teachings that discarded the importance of Jesus Christ. Many left Christ to follow the new fake good news. Paul's instruction: "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

"You who are spiritual" can be translated "the spiritual ones." Paul wanted the spiritual ones to restore Christians who were caught violating God's teachings in Christ. The Christian spiritual ones were to rescue the Christian victims who discarded Christ.

Why? The spiritual ones understood God's will. They understood that God's purposes were fulfilled in the flesh and blood struggles against the evil realities of everyday life. God sent Jesus to rescue people captured by evil. Christ died to rescue the hopelessly trapped. The extent of the person's wickedness was no barrier to God's forgiveness. God can forgive any person who chooses to redirect life and enter Christ.

The spiritual ones understand their mission by understanding Jesus' mission. Jesus restored in the spirit of gentleness. The spiritual ones seek to restore in the spirit of gentleness. Just as Jesus bore our burdens on the cross, the spiritual ones seek to bear one another's burdens. The spiritual ones realize that they are temptable rescuers. They do not rescue in an attitude of judgmental arrogance. They rescue in a spirit of humble compassion.

The mission of the church is to call people to closeness with God. How close? Close enough to be the spiritual ones. When the church merely calls people to be religious, its message becomes a fake gospel, and its altered purpose will not bring people close to God.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 5 March 2000

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