In an article about the uniqueness of each human being, Richard Gray writes, “From your walk and your body odor to the shapes of your ears and your backside, scientists are finding many surprising ways of identifying you from the other seven billion people in the world.”
I suppose God could have caused us to come into this world in a cookie-cutter-pattern in which we might all be the same. But with wisdom, creativity, and love, God causes each of us to come into this world as a unique being.
Every individually-crafted person matters immensely to God.
In Matthew 10:29-31, Jesus states, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Every individual matters immensely to God!
Since every person matters to God, individuals should matters to us as well.
We get a glimpse of such personalized care in the way Paul concludes his letter to the church in Colossae. Paul mentions 10 distinct individuals here. Though we know almost nothing about most of these persons, they are mentioned by name because they matter to God and they matter to Paul.
Joseph Fletcher comments, “The true opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Hate, bad as it is, at least treats the neighbor as a THOU, whereas indifference turns the neighbor into an IT, a thing. This is why we may say that there is actually one thing worse than evil itself, and that is indifference to evil. In human relations the nadir of morality, the lowest point as far as Christian ethics are concerned, is manifest in the phrase, ‘I couldn’t care less.’”
On the other hand, Charles Morgan remarks, “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God’s finger on a person’s shoulder.”
Paul’s letter concludes not with indifference but with a touch of God’s finger on 10 people’s shoulders. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could dissolve some of the indifference in this world with many touches of God’s finger on the shoulders of people in our lives by treating each person in accordance with how much they matter to God and to us?
Some of the touches we find in Colossians 4 carry added significance:
Earlier in the letter, when Paul declared the equality before God of slaves and masters, he began what would bring about the dismantling of slavery. He takes it a step further here. In verse 7 Paul refers to Tychicus, a free man, as a bond servant (in the Greek, the word is closely related to the word used for slaves in Colossians 3:22), while in verse 9, he refers to Onesimus, a slave, as “the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.” Paul tears down divisions, and so should we.
In verse 10, Paul speaks of Mark, stressing, “If he comes to you, welcome him.” This is the person Paul refused to bring with him on an earlier missionary trip and fought with Barnabas about. But in Colossians 3:12-14, Paul stressed that we should “forgive each other.” For Paul, forgiveness is not just something to write about but something to practice. That’s how it should be for us as well.
In verse 15, Paul sends his greetings to “Nympha and the church in her house.” Though Greek culture demeaned women, Paul upholds this woman as a respected leader in the early Christian church. As Paul points out in Galatians 3:28, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”