COLOSSIANS - Christ in you, the hope of glory!
Studies in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians
Part 3 - What Does Your Resurrection Life Look like? (Colossians 3:1-17)
17. How Can the Unity of a Church Grow? (Colossians 3:11-15)
Paul had experienced that when continual forgiveness, patience and love is practiced, the peace in a church remains (Matt. 18:21-35). But he also recognized that human attempts at reconciliation and well-intentioned peace initiatives, which are dependent on time and place, remain transitory. Therefore, he spoke of the “peace of Jesus Christ”, the peace that reigns in the Holy Trinity, of which Jesus had said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
This merciful gift of Christ can maintain the bond of love in a church. The devil tries continually to destroy this divine peace. Therefore, we need not be surprised when tension, irritation and displeasure arise among individuals and groups within the church. Such is normal! For that reason, the spiritual medicine that enables mutual forgiveness and wilful submission needs to be swallowed again and again. To that end, the apostle to the nations confessed and commanded:
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
The crucial point of this sentence rests in the two words “called and rule”! Whoever lives with Christ is called to believe, not only for himself, but also to become, together with other members of a church, a unified body, shaped in the gospel. This membership of action is the spiritual body of Christ, in which He is the all important head and we His obedient members. Therein, the head is not to think what we want, but just the opposite; we are to want what the head thinks. Correspondingly, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of peace and reconciliation, purposes to not just console and strengthen us, and not just to motivate us for important service, but also, to comprehensively rule in us and in the church! There should be no contradiction in us towards His leading, but only a trustful obedience. Where the Spirit of our King reigns, the Kingdom of God is realized. Therefore, we should not only be “surprised” when a church experiences little stress, but, more importantly, offer thanksgiving for it. Gratitude fortifies us in the plan of God, as we read in the Old Testament: “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God” (Ps. 50:23).
Prayer: Father in heaven, we worship You, because through the blood of Christ we have become Your saints and beloved. We thank You that You have called us to live out the gospel and, as a community, to proclaim Your peace. Help us to continually forgive and forget one another´s offences, so that the evil one might have no power over us. Amen.
Question 43: How can peace be maintained in a church?