Colossians #15 Colossians 3:15-17

 


Colossians #15 Colossians 3:15-17

 Last time we examined the new wardrobe every believer is entitled to wear.  We take off the old ways and put on the new way of living as committed followers of Jesus.  We know the character qualities of a disciple: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, even-tempered, contentment, and quickness to forgive.  These clothes are all cut out of 100% heavenly love.  In this our 15th session in the book of Colossians we are going to consider peace, praise, and productivity.

 The Apostle Paul is instructing the faithful in Colossae, he writes:

 Colossians 3:15-17 (MSG)

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. 16 Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! 17 Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

 Before we consider what Paul means by the peace of Christ keeping us in tune with each other we need to know a little about the peace of God.  When we read the gospels, Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John Jesus never seems threatened.  There was no inner conflict even though there were plenty of conflicts directed at him.  In one instance the folks from His hometown were so enraged that they were going to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:29).  In another instance, the authorities were going to arrest Jesus, but couldn’t manage to lay a hand on Him (John 7:30). And again we read that after teaching, the crowd picked up stones to stone him to death but He just walked away (John 8:59).  That all certainly qualify as conflict. Jesus is unfazed because He had complete trust in the One He called Father. No worries, God’s got this.   

 If you have this gift of peace it is because you trust God.  Regardless of the circumstances of life, regardless of the catastrophes of life, you know that what is most important is secure. Your relationship with God is most important.  When that relationship is right, from it grows harmony with others, harmony within yourself, and harmony with the earth.  Harmony with the earth is about being a wise steward of all the resources God has entrusted you with.  The power to cope because of hope that God’s got this is yours also.  Trust is key to confidence, confidence births peace.  Even though you may not see the hand of God, even though you may have offered up a million prayers, you still know that there is no other place to go but to the God of love revealed to us through the ministry of Jesus Christ.

I grew up with the idea that peace is found through strength.  If you’re big and strong you don’t get bullied, others are afraid of you.  A motto of President Teddy Roosevelt is to “Walk softly but carry a big stick.”  Peace through superior firepower.   That’s the peace that the world gives.  I will fear no evil for I am the biggest, “baddest,” meanest dude in the valley, don’t tread on me.  That’s the peace the world gives you.  Peace through strength, peace through power.  The peace that  Christ gives comes through apparent weakness. The reason it is apparent weakness is that even though at first it appears humble and weak, in the end, it’s victorious.  Apparent weakness is counter-culture, counter my egoism.  Entrance into the kingdom comes to us by way of crucifixion.  It was in apparent weakness that Jesus won the war. It was in utter humility that Jesus eventually took first place.  This is a hard truth to live.  To live apparent weakness requires great discernment and keeping in step with the Holy Spirit in every situation.   

Now let’s take all my ramblings and use them as background for what Paul is telling us.

Christ unifies. The peace of Christ is a result of wearing the wardrobe of the kingdom.  The wardrobe of the Kingdom helps us to live righteously with one another. If you are to relate rightly to others then put on compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, temperate, willingness to let others be first, and quick to forgive those who offend you. Then over all of those virtues wrap yourself in a cloak of love  (Col 3:12-14 (MSG).  Since each disciple is to do this, we know that our brother or sister in Christ is clothed the same way.  When like meets like there is unity even in the disagreement, unity is more important than being right on nonessentials.  

 When Paul tells us to let the peace of Christ rule is he telling us that when it comes to our relationships with other believers maintaining unity is a necessity.  The peace that Paul is encouraging us to live in is interpersonal; a peace that values unity more than “me getting my way.”  When it comes to a disagreement, since we are clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline and temperance we don’t fight, we collaborate and cooperate   The peace of Christ empowers us to remain agreeable in our disagreements.  

 The Church has not been very good at maintaining unity.  Church History contains a sorry record of disunity, of civil war that was never civil.  The reason for this is mediocre disciples.  The Church is full of mediocre disciples, people who are serving Jesus, but are not like him (E. Stanley Jones, Victorious Living p 77).  Mediocre disciples have come to a compromise between wearing the old rags and wearing the new wardrobe.  Being compromised on the inside they are going to be compromised on the outside.  What is inside a person’s heart, comes out in a person’s actions (Matthew 12:34; Proverbs 4:23). This shows up most pointedly in our relationships with others.  

 It might be wise that before we take a stand and refuse to be moved that we make sure the real issue is a disagreement concerning the basics of the faith, the essentials.  In a previous message, it was suggested that the Nicene Creed formulated during the 4th century lays out the basics.  For our holiness movement, 16 articles of faith lay out the basics for our congregation.  Even disagreement over cherished doctrines needs to have the peace of Christ arbitrate any disunity in the diversity.  There is a whole lot of opinion when it comes to the practice of the faith.  Those filled with the Spirit of Jesus will be united by that same Spirit. Jesus unifies. 

 A heart of thanksgiving helps keeps brothers and sisters united.  Instead of cultivating contention, we are to cultivate thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a form of praise.  Being thankful moves us out of first place by recognizing that God is in charge.  When we praise God we position ourselves to hear from God.  We take our eyes off ourselves and focus on the one who gives us peace.  There will always be people that you don’t get along with, your way of doing life clashes, you may see them as EGRs [extra grace required], you may be at your wits end with their IRN [infantile religious nonsense], yet when you praise God because you are cultivating a thankful heart you have the empowerment to continue to love them.  You still may not like them but you realize they are family.  As the ole saying goes:  “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”

 Verse 16:  “Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!”

 Scholars tell us that this verse describes what a meeting of the Church family consisted of.  Worship included thanksgiving, teaching, admonition and encouragement, and singing.  The only thing missing from the list is a meal.  The Word of Christ is the gospel, God’s master plan.  Remember these first believers did not have the New Testament.  They had the gospel message and the teachings found in what we call the Old Testament. Each member of the congregation has the responsibility to teach and to encourage; there is no hierarchy, very similar to the new movement of the house church, the church that meets in someone’s home.  This new movement maybe is not so new after all.  Singing was a common activity whose purpose was spiritual instruction.  We in the Wesleyan tradition only need to look to the songs written by Charles Wesley to see how solid instruction was put to a catchy tune.  We all know how songs stay with us, and lectures quickly slip away.  

 Verse 17: “ Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”

 Paul has given us an incredible guideline for behavior.  For something to be done in the name of Jesus, it must be in accord with Jesus.  If some thought, word, or action is not something that would meet with Jesus' approval it is to be avoided.  Can I do “this” knowing that Jesus will bless it?  Do I have His stamp of approval because my actions are in accordance with loving God and loving others?  If you are not sure if some thought, word, or deed is right or wrong use the “in the name of Jesus” test.  Ask yourself is my “whatever” compassionate, kind, humble, coming from a place of inner strength and confidence, am I under control.  Is my “whatever” in accordance with proper anger?  Is my “whatever” in line with forgiving others, loving others; being longsuffering with others, does it create contentedness?  Is my “whatever” loving?  Does it strengthen relationships or does it hinder righteous relationships?  Can I do it “in the name of Jesus?”  Passing the “in Jesus’ name” test with a clear conscience keeps you in tune with your brothers and sisters. 

 Once again there is an emphasis on thanksgiving.  Back in Nov 2021 a series of messages simply entitles Thanksgiving may prove beneficial to you if you are still seeking to cultivate that attitude of gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon you by God in Jesus.  Please realize that there will be no thanksgiving if you think you are entitled.  Pride, selfishness, and worry will steal thanksgiving from you.  Perfectionism kills thanksgiving.  When suffering abounds we are not thankful for the difficult time, instead, we do the hard work of being thankful in the difficult time. 

 Romans 5:1-2 (MSG)

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide-open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

 We are to be “thanking God the Father every step of the way.”  May we all learn to master this discipline.

 Paul in these verses tells us how to live in harmony with one another. 

“When feelings clash and we are pulled in two directions at the same time, the decision of Christ will keep us in the way of love and the Church will remain the one body it is meant to be” (Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT).

Many of our practices in our congregations are cultural and a matter of opinion [by opinion it is mean a belief held without certainty of its truth], or a matter of personal taste.   John Wesley said that outside of the basics we “think and let think.”  This doesn’t mean we are wishy-washy, we know what we believe.  If someone taught that Jesus was merely a wise and powerful teacher, we know that such a teaching is outside the boundaries of the gospel.  “But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.  So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a [of simple Christianity lived out].” (John Wesley, The Character of a Methodist0.

 The peace of Christ “empowers the desire to live in unity and harmony with all and especially with the citizens of the kingdom, your brothers and sisters in Christ. There is supernatural confidence that everything will be alright in Christ.” (What does it mean to 'let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts' (Colossians 3:15)? (compellingtruth.org)

 You will have the peace of Christ as you clothe yourself in the wardrobe of the Kingdom.  If there is some questionable action employ the IJN test, the “In Jesus Name” name.  If you can’t ask or don’t suspect that your thoughts, words, or behaviors can’t be blessed by God, then don’t do it. 

 Be encouraged to examine the degree of thankfulness you walk around with every day.  If you find it wanting, figure out why.  Cultivating thankfulness is a powerful deterrent to the old way of life, living life on empty.  


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