Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and counsel one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
As I meditate on this passage this week in preparation for this Sunday’s Word through Pastor Mark and from God, I have been convicted of how sweet it is to be spoken to by God. Just the awareness that God is speaking all the time has been convicting to me in that when I am lost or I am confused, the best action to take is to be still and listen to God a la Psalm 46:10.
God always ends up speaking to us first, then to others. And in Colossians 3, Paul not only speaks to us about the peace we receive from God, but how we relate to others, mainly to our fellow brethren. We are relational beings, and we are called to be with one another, and not only on a superficial level, but on a deep abiding level. We are not to be living in a vacuum without people knowing us. We are to be honest and genuine with one another, and not to be ashamed of who we are now in Christ.
I always wondered what church would look like if it looked like Colossians 3 and I would assess myself as being slightly judgmental at times that the church being described by Paul did not look the same as the church I was attending. It would be easy to be critical of the church especially in light of the spiritual reality being compared to what I saw on a Sunday morning or a fellowship gathering. I wondered why I wasn’t being cared for and I wondered why others were not being cared for. Why weren’t people getting better? My judgmental spirit would often point to blame the church.
And in an ironic twist of fate, God called me to the church. To serve, to love, to shepherd, to sacrifice, to die, and to live for the church. This was God’s calling in my life. I detested it because I didn’t want to be associated with a broken church family that did not live up to my ideals.
Let me tell you how God convinced, rather, convicted me to follow Him and to obey against every fiber of my being. He asked me a simple question-
“Why do you think I wrote these letters to the church?”
This question itself began to unravel a twisted ball of yarn in my soul. I had to ask the question who the church consisted of.
If I am a believer, then I’m part of the church.
I had to ask the question, then why doesn’t it look like what is described in the bible?
As you are in process, so is the church in process.
I had to ask why it didn’t live up to what it was called to? A light in this dark world?
That’s why I’m calling you to be the church, and to serve the church.
I then asked, how will I know how if the church currently isn’t teaching me?
I am teaching you. Right now.
At that point, God had pointed out that I cannot be a Christian that does not love the church. As Christ loved His church, sacrificed for it, loved it, sacrificed for it unto death, we are to do no less, even if God does describe God’s people at times as adulterous, idolatrous, and unfaithful. But as is written in Hosea, Hosea loves his people amidst that, wins her back, loves her even when most difficult, to demonstrate His great love for us. As Christ loves His Church, so must his followers do likewise. In that, it is not some vague notion of the church organization or campus, but the people that make up the church. It’s people. Young, old, imperfect, broken, and disappointing.
And as I began to identify the church as the people, and the family of God, my hypocritical judgmental heart grew larger and warm like the Grinch on Christmas. I began to see that I myself was just as broken, sinful, and ugly, and judgmental as the church I was negative toward. And I asked God one more question: How can a broken person like myself find healing and peace amongst a people who are also broken and sinful? Don’t I need someone more godly to teach me?
And His response: My people worship me. I will teach you. And my people are my helpers to teach you. In their good, through them, I will demonstrate my love to you. In their weakness, I will show you whom to direct my love towards.
This is some of the best discipline and correction I have ever received. We are to counsel one another. The word counsel is to mean- “helpful words” and it has been my dearest joy to receive counsel, and to give counsel to those in need. It is my greatest joy and also my greatest pain, to be in the midst of broken people, identifying with them, and also being able to help them, and have them help me. Where I can be strong, I can help, and where I am weak, God has always provided someone who is stronger, to help me. And progressively, as the distance between myself and the people of the church grew smaller, I found that we began to be truly a family connected in relationship. We didn’t need to ask for prayer, because we knew we were already in prayer for one another. We didn’t need to ask what was going on in our lives because we kept each other updated. We prayed for deep things, and shared disappointment, as well as joys and happy times.
Quick personal story. I remember the way I would date my wife. I would call her friends and ask them what type of color she liked. I would ask her and her friends all sorts of questions about her.. I look back on that as a time in which I was very mindful, curious, and attentive. I refer back to that time and feel convicted that we ought to take that same attitude and level of mindfulness in thinking about those whom we worship with.
I think the thoughts I leave with you all can be thought about in these questions:
1. Do you know, and allow others to know you within the church?
2. Do you know how to pray for others? Do they know how to pray for you?
3. Do we feel disappointed in the church?
4. Do we love the church, as Christ loves the church?
5. Who can you extend that grace towards today? Do not tarry.