As I’m watching the riots in Ferguson, New York, and really all across our nation one sign I frequently see is “No Justice, No Peace”. Peace, is something that we all long for. But it’s something that we know must be won in a hard fought battle.
In the life of Christians Jesus has already secured our peace.
Peace is reconciliation. And reconciliation is what God has done through transferring us into this new community. He has reconciled us to Himself, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Or as Paul said in Colossians, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind…he has now reconciled…”
But it is not only reconciliation to God that has happened. He has also reconciled us to one another and brought us into unity in one body (Colossians 2:11). We have been reconciled racially, culturally, and socially. This is the essential point of Ephesians 2:11-22 that the elemental dividing wall of the people of Israel and the Gentiles has been torn down (Ephesians 2:14).
Ruling Our Hearts
Colossians 3:15 says, that we are to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. But what does that mean?
First, notice that “hearts” is plural. So in the body of Christ you have a all of these hearts with opinions, passions, drives, and you put them together into one local church. Or even put them together in the body of Christ as a whole.
It’s obvious that with such diversity there will be differences of opinion. Some very sharp and meaningful (like issues of baptism, or race relations). Others still sharp but less meaningful (like colors of carpet).
The picture in Colossians 3 is that all of these hearts are coming together into one setting. Now, what should take place with all of these hearts? How do we decide on green carpet or hardwood floors? How do we tread through the muddy waters of race relations?
We are to let the “peace of Christ” rule our hearts. The word for “rule” is the only time it is used in the New Testament. What it refers to is an Olympic judge; the guy that would award a medal or disqualify an athlete from his prize. This guy was the umpire. You can argue all you want but the umpire is the one that gets to make the call.
What this verse is saying is that when the church gathers it ought to gather in peace. Jim should not be ticked off with Jan. The young folk should not harbor bitterness to the old and the older folk should not harbor resentment of the young. There should be unity of peace.
This verse is not saying that you should make individual decisions based upon whether or not you have “peace in your heart”. It is saying that we have been called into one body not 200, so with every decision, relationship, and gathering the peace of Christ ought to rule.
As Sam Storms says,
“A decisive factor in how you should conduct yourselves in relation one to another is whether or not the peace that Christ died to achieve and impart is preserved and promoted. When you are faced with tensions and potentially divisive decisions in the community of faith, give strong consideration to what will most effectively sustain the ‘peace of Christ’.”
This means that if you are not at peace with somebody in the body then you need to be reconciled with that person. No matter how sharp the division.
This is my prayer for all of the civil unrest in our nation—that is also causing unrest and division in the body of Christ. My prayer is that the peace of Christ would rule our hearts. And may this inform our every tweet, status update, and conversation during these trying times.