Epistle to the Colossians 3: 15-17 (NIV)
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
In this passage we encounter from the Apostle Paul more of the challenges we considered last week. Verses 15 and 16 begin with a simple verb, “let”, which in a positive sense means “permit” or “allow” or could mean “do not block”, “do not forbid” or “do not prevent” if expressed negatively.
Do we “let the peace of Christ rule”? So much in our modern world is in direct competition with – and even in opposition to – the peace of Christ.
In Federal Parliament as elsewhere in Australia there are matters urgently requiring attention, deadlines to be met, hostile attacks to be faced, defensive measures to be taken, opposition and resistance to be overcome and the seemingly impossible to be accomplished with fewer than optimal resources. Where is the room, the space, the time for peace?
Perhaps we could visualise this peace as represented by the Messiah sleeping on a cushion in the stern of a fishing boat while squall-driven waves crash over the boat’s sides (Mark 4: 38).
To “let” the peace of Christ rule requires a conscious effort, a deliberate decision. We must as well emphasise the verb “rule”; there will be no higher condition ruling in our lives than the peace of Christ so all other contending thoughts must be made subordinate. We must will these other contenders into submission.
To “let” the peace of Christ rule also requires that there be no unconfessed sinfulness blocking direct communion with God. A conscience bothered by guilt is enemy to the peace of Christ. Again, an act of the will is required to seek out all within us that needs to be confessed and truly to repent.
Again, do we “let the word of Christ dwell”? Do we know his word? Do we read and seek to understand all that he taught – all that is recorded for us in Holy Scripture? Do we know it well enough to be able to “teach and admonish one another”? Does the word of Christ “dwell” in us, reside in us and make its home in us? What parts of our lives serve to block or forbid or prevent the word of Christ from being ever-present within us? What deliberate decisions are required to ensure that the word of Christ dwells “richly”?
The Apostle has urged his hearers, then and now, to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Three times we encounter this: “and be thankful” (verse 15), “with gratitude in your hearts to God” (verse 16) and “giving thanks to God the Father through him (the Lord Jesus)” (verse 17).
Once we know the peace of Christ, we realise there is much for which to be thankful.
Let us express this gratitude openly, honouring God and giving him the glory, especially in the presence of those who have yet to experience the peace of Christ.