Monday, January 6, 2014

Let the Peace of Christ Rule

So it's been four months since I've posted anything and I think I may have finally chased off the dozen or so friends and family who had previously subscribed to and/or occasionally visited this blog page. But with a new year (and over two weeks off work) comes a new sense of energy - or at least enough refreshment to get back in the saddle. Ironically, the post below is something I wrote about three years ago. It was written shortly before Christmas as a devotional for a lunch gathering of the lovely women I work with and when I reread it a month ago I found myself encouraged during this holiday season.

So much of my walk of faith is an act of repetition. Constantly rehearsing what I know to be eternally true is the antidote to combat all things seen and felt while sojourning here. One of my favorite bloggers is Wendy Alsup (Practical Theology for Women) and she often claims to be preaching to herself while allowing her readers to be in on the conversation. That's more what I'm aiming for here going forward. So I will use this blog less as an update to those aforementioned family and friends and more as a reminder of God's faithfulness to me while "daily taking up my cross." I may lose a few folks with this new tactic and I may gain a few, but whether you're soon departing or coming on board, I'm grateful for the time you've given and hope you have been and/or will be encouraged from time to time.

Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV)
"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 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. 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."

There is so much packed into these three verses. Not the least of which is a picture of us encouraging each other, holding each other accountable and singing praises of thanks to God together as members of one body. But there are a few things that struck me as I contemplated these verses;

Let Peace Rule

“Let peace rule” is easy to say, but it’s not always easy to obey. And it comes across as a command, not a polite suggestion for getting through a rough day a little easier (although it seems that would be an added benefit)!

The word used for peace in the Greek is “eirene” and is defined in the NIV concordance as “peace, harmony, tranquility, safety, welfare, health; often with an emphasis on lack of strife or reconciliation in a relation, as when one has ‘peace with God.’”

•Isaiah tells us in 66:12 that peace flows like a river.
•John 14:27 quotes Jesus saying, “My Peace I give to you, not at the world gives to you, let not your heart be troubled or afraid.”
•Galatians 5:22 tells us peace is a fruit of the Spirit.
•Ephesians 2:14 says Jesus Himself is our peace.
•Phil. 4:7 talks about the peace of Christ transcending our understanding. It says this right after it tells us not to be anxious about anything, inferring that peace is the opposite of anxiety.

Pastor Chris Tiegreen notes in his devotional book The One Year Walk with God the following about this passage; “he doesn’t say let peace exist or periodically influence us, he says let it rule.”

The Ryrie study bible footnote on this passage says “rule” means to “arbitrate or umpire every circumstance of life.”

My daughter asked during a Bears game once why the refs don’t review every play in football when they had the tape anyway and showed it to the fans and often missed a call. My husband explained that not all plays were reviewable. This didn’t really satisfy her. Imagine an umpire in your heart that makes a determination on every play in your life, in your day, in your hour getting ready for work or running errands, when you're on the phone with a friend or trying to parent a kid struggling with homework - an arbitrator to immediately assess whether the right call was made or not before moving on with the game. The arbitrator would have to be the most just, wise and calm person in the world to get every call right. Like the Prince of Peace.

Imagine how different your decisions would be, your thoughts, actions and words if Christ’s peace was ruling every circumstance, every feeling, every relationship, every play of your life.

Let the Word of Christ Dwell Richly in You

Again, this sounds more like a command than a helpful hint for a better day. And again, it has the added benefit of making the day better when obeyed.

I took a cue from my devotional book and thought about what this doesn’t say. It doesn’t say the Word of Christ should take up temporary residence. It doesn’t say the Word of Christ should dwell in you when you remember to invite it or to the extent it doesn’t put a damper on your plans. It doesn’t say it should dwell long enough and deep enough to get you through a rough patch or give you an energy boost. To dwell richly means to dwell abundantly, to the full, not lacking at all.

The Word of Christ is made to dwell richly. Not insufficiently and not in a capacity less than what it is. The Word of Christ isn’t content to live in a reserve tank back behind our main arteries. The only way the Word of Christ doesn’t dwell richly in us is if we don’t let it.

Be Thankful

There are three phrases in these verses that tell us to ‘be thankful’, have ‘gratitude in our hearts’ and ‘give thanks to God’.

I just finished reading Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book Choosing Gratitude. The first interesting point she makes is in the title. Gratitude is a choice. We don’t wait to feel grateful to be grateful. We can practice gratitude like any skill. The more it’s practiced, the more naturally it comes. The other point Nancy makes sounds an awful lot like a sermon from our Senior Pastor Colin Smith - the deepest sense of gratitude wells up as a response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ when we truly understand all He has done for us – our initial alienation from God and our reconciliation to Him through Christ’s work on the cross.

Let the peace of Christ rule.

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