Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
– Colossians 4:7-18 [ESV]
I really should know this. But maybe I don’t believe it. Maybe you don’t either. Is there someone you have written off? He’ll never change. She’ll always be like that. I can’t see any hope to change myself. It’s just always going to be this way. There is no hope.
Paul and Barnabas could have said that about each other. On his second missionary journey Paul and Barnabas had a falling out. At issue was Mark’s hesitation on an earlier occasion. For that reason Paul did not want to take him along. Barnabas – true to his name – wanted to bring Mark along. Their convictions were so strong that this caused them to separate. Paul took Silas and began his missionary journey. Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus. The event is recorded in Acts 15:36-41. It seems to have been a strong disagreement and major split.
We learn here, however, that Paul is recommending that the people in Colossae welcome Mark if he comes to the people there. He even mentions that Mark is Barnabas’ cousin. The broken relationships seem to have been healed.
Brothers and sisters in Christ ought always seek to be reconciled. Jesus makes that point when he speaks of giving an offering and remembering that someone has something against you. When that happens, you are to leave behind your offering. First go be reconciled and then give your offering. Restoration of broken human relationships is more urgent even than giving an offering. Paul’s attitude toward these once-estranged fellow missionaries is evidence of this being worked out.
I ask again whether you have written someone off with no hope of reconciliation. Sometimes the issue is our attitude toward them and a self-fulfilling prophecy. We live out our assumptions about someone’s recalcitrance toward reconciliation.
If someone comes to your mind who you believe is beyond hope, perhaps today is the day to test that belief. For God changes hearts. And perhaps the first work he is doing is in your heart and mine. If that’s the case, you may also have the opportunity to reconnect. And even if that is not the case, your first move must be to think better of that person. It may mean that you love them the same way that Christ loved us: while we were still sinners he forgave us…because he loves us. Preemptively. Unconditionally. Steadfastly. Graciously. And through that love he has redeemed us. We are his and his grace and love has changed our hearts. We ought to expect no less of one another.