Sometimes it is suggested that it is inappropriate for church leaders to reveal their concerns to their church members. Paul here thinks otherwise and informs his readers that he is struggling on their behalf. What is striking about his struggles is that they are for believers he has never met. Yet he feels a burden for them. Perhaps he had this burden because he was an apostle concerned for the progress of Christ’s church. Maybe he had this burden because he was a member of the family of God concerned about his brothers and sisters. Whatever the reasons, he had a struggle and he informed his readers that he had it.
What was his struggle? I suspect it was his way of describing the energy he put into his prayers for them. Why was it a struggle? Earnest prayer can be tiring and Paul yet had not received a final answer to his prayers. He did not know if his readers would never succumb to false teaching. And I suppose he would have this struggle as long as he was on earth.
Paul had this struggle even although there were good signs in the church in Colosse. He mentions that although he was miles away from them he was rejoicing in their current strong faith in Jesus. Yet the apostle did not assume that good things in the present should reduce the intensity of his prayers for their future.
What was he struggling for, as far as his Christian readers were concerned? He was praying earnestly for their Christian growth – growth that would be revealed in true unity among themselves and by them having full awareness of who Jesus is. Paul wanted them to be aware of their spiritual riches and he wanted them to discover and share them together. Those riches are what they could and should find in Jesus. This means that true Christian unity is achieved by discovering the spiritual resources contained in Christ. There is enough in him to satisfy all believers, and their failure to make this a priority is a sign they are on the path to spiritual poverty.
The challenge to any of us who are Christian leaders is how earnestly we pray that our church members would know these riches, and the challenge for church members is how earnestly they want them.