The Ruling Peace of Christ
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” (Colossians 3:14-15)
It’s Autumn in the U.S. and most of us are getting out our sweaters and jackets (and some winter coats, gloves, and mittens). We put our outer clothing on over our indoor dress. However, in South Texas at this time of the year, it is likely that I will keep my sweater on when I am inside because the air conditioning still runs during the sunny afternoons. So when I dress, I coordinate my clothes to look like one outfit. Paul has given us a word picture in Colossians. On top of “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience [and forgiveness]” (3:12), he says to put on love. Love covers all other spiritual gifts. It should be the first thing people see or think about when they meet us. Above all else, Christians are called on to love one another (1 Corinthians 13). This does not mean that love for God and others hides our other character traits, but it is what most visibly reflects Christ in us. Like a coat, love prepares and enables us to go out into the world, warmly and affectionately.
The other picture Paul paints is that of a body, which is the Body of Christ. Love’s role in the body is to bind everything together. Love is also like the PMMA (bone cement) that surgeons use to glue together broken vertebrae. Whether Paul means more than the spiritual gifts, I am not sure. But the idea of the body being one of perfect harmony is very clear. All of our body parts work together, and when one part is not working correctly synchronization is lost, and all parts experience the hurt. A rash, a slight fever, or a mosquito bite effect all parts. We try to tell our hands not to scratch where the bit itches because we are one body.
What is the medicine that works together with love to keep our body of believers in harmony? It is the peace of Christ, ruling in our hearts. “’The peace of Christ’ may be said to ‘reign’ in their hearts, when it is the governing principle there; when it restrains the turbulent passions of anger, wrath, and revenge, allays undue heats, moderates the spirits, and composes differences… it is unnatural for members of the same body to quarrel with each other.” (1) “The Christian community is to be as showcase of the reconciliation Christ has brought to the universe (and to individual sinners).” (2) But we must allow the peace of Christ to govern our hearts. We have been reconciled to God through Jesus atoning work—this is a fact. To showcase this truth, we must fight against every opposition to gospel peace being the supreme ruling principle of our identity and purpose. We oppose gospel peace with judgmentalness, envy, fear, pride, vanity, and materialism, to name just a few issues that pervert peace.
What is the thing that interferes and opposes the peace of Christ in your heart? How does this impact your relationship with other believers?
(1) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Colossians 3:15, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/colossians-3.html
(2) The Reformation Study Bible, Colossians 3:15, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.