For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. 
Often Paul’s expression of struggle is born from a deep concern for the hearts of those whom he writes. Paul’s concern is that the believers would be encouraged in their walk of faith and that they would be unified through love for one another.
Christians need encouragement. Indeed, all humanity was created to live in community together. It is natural to gather together with like-minded people for the purpose of encouragement and progress. When a person submits to Christ for the first time, they separate themselves from the world around them and become something new. Particularly in Colossae, when someone became a believer, they were separating from a vastly different religious background and community. As a person transitioned from pagan worship to Christianity, they would find themselves alienated and separate from the community that once surrounded them. Thus, Paul wants to encourage them. Christians do not journey alone and meeting and fellowshipping with other believers is a great source of encouragement.
The encouragement of believers stems from the common love that binds all Christians together. When Christ has invaded a heart, love begins to reign as the chief motivation for Christian action: that is, love for Jesus. The motivation prior to the life transforming work of the Spirit was love for self. Though it may have manifested itself in many variants, all actions committed prior to Christ, no mater how altruistic they may seem, were motivated by a love for self (c.f. Isa. 64:6). Once Christ rescues a man, love for self is replaced by a growing love for Christ. It is this common love that serves as the bond between Christians. It is this love that allows the Gospel to transcend all other divides. The love of Christ, birthed in the heart of Christians, unites believers the world over in a common filial relationship that overcomes every cultural barrier, racial distinction, economic disparity, and ideological difference. True Christians are not bound together because they share the same ideological principles. True believers are bound together because they share the same love!
Encouragement and unity serve to propel the Christian community towards maturity. As Christians live in love with one another and display the love of God on the earth to all those around them, they grow in their assurance. The Greek word used for “assurance” is a compound word from the word for “fullness” and the word “wear.” Christians who love each other will become fully dressed in the understanding and knowledge of Christ. A community that pursues the love of Christ will inevitably look more and more like the focus of their love. It is this “full-dressing” that Paul longs to see the Colossians exemplify.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are attending a fancy event. Everyone is dressed appropriately in formal attire. As you wait to enter the gala, you notice to the left a young man whose tie is untied and he has no jacket or shoes on. The young man comes to the entrance of the gala and nervousness begins to overwhelm him. You watch as he begins to realize that he is underdressed for the occasion. His eyes drift to those around him in comparative agony as he recognizes his inadequacy. Then you begin to see a group of fully dressed people gather around the young man. One man shows the young brother how to tie his tie, the next hands him a pair of shoes, and the one places a jacket on him. The young man’s inadequacies are overcome by engaging in the community of mutual love. So the young man is fully dressed for the gala. This is the way Christian community works. Through mutual encouragement, believers lift one another up in the understanding and knowledge of Christ.
This is why it is so important for you to find a healthy church that can encourage you in love. Seek out a church where the community will walk with you, bearing your burdens, teaching you how to live, and working with you that you may be fully dressed in the understanding and knowledge of Christ.
If you do not have a church that does this, you are welcome to join us at Sovereign Grace Fellowship. We strive together as a community to live out the love of Christ in our everyday lives. Come join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30 or for Bible study Thursday nights at 6pm. More information about us can be found on our website at www.sgfbrazoria.org