In his greetings Paul says that his readers are in Christ at Colosse, so we can say that they have a spiritual location (in Christ) and a physical location (in Colosse). They live in both worlds simultaneously.
Physically, they were in Colosse, a small town living in the shadow of its neighbouring cities. Yet it was a place of worldly influences that could distract the members of the Colossian church. The main influence there was a form of syncretism, the result of the merging of several religious ideas, including worship of angels and ascetism. There was a strong Jewish community there, and some of its ideas had contributed to the religious mixture that threatened the church. The members could not forget or ignore what was going on around them, but they would have been under pressure to conform.
The remedy for this danger was to discover what they had in their spiritual location. Paul summarises this location as ‘in Christ’ – this was the location of all their spiritual blessings. Wherever they were in Colosse, whatever they were doing there or whoever they were with, they were united to Christ at each moment. We can imagine a whole host of circumstances in which they could find themselves. At each moment they were to say to one to themselves, ‘I am in Christ, united to him.’
Paul highlights the resources available to them when he writes, ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father.’ Again he is stressing the privileges of adoption. When we think of grace, we can see that it is fatherly grace, fresh grace, forgiving grace, and full grace. As a Father, he is full of pity; as a fountain, his grace is always fresh and free; as a forgiver, his grace is always full. What a wonderful encouragement to say to the Colossians as they looked ahead!
Paul also reminds them about the peace of the Father. Peace is reconciliation with God (pardon), harmony with one another (people), contentment with one’s situation (providence), submission to God’s will (practice) and anticipation of a perfect world (prospects). Peace must always be accompanied by grace – any other kind of peace is not what God gives to his people.
We have the same resources wherever we live.