The Church and the Rule of Peace - Colossians 3:15
We live in a world that is fractured by conflict and opposition. Our culture feeds on strife, argument, hatred and bitterness. Peace seems allusive in almost every aspect of our society and unfortunately the church and our homes often experience the same kinds of unrest.
It’s these realities that make Colossians 3:15 so needful and so important. Through Christ we have been given peace. As the people of God we have been joined together in peace and we are called to let that peace have rule.
Defining thepeace of Christ: What does Paul mean by the peace of Christin this context?
In the Scriptures there are several different kinds of peace that God offers to His people. Here are three of the most common:
- Godward Peace - Peace with God through the work of Jesus - Because of sin we are born as enemies of God; we need reconciliation and restored peace. Through faith in Jesus and His work on the cross we can be at peace with God (Romans 5:1, 10-11; Colossians 1:19–20).
- Inner Peace - Peace of Soul because of our relationship and trust in God- This kind of peace is the confidence and trust that we have in knowing that God is good and that He is in control (John 14:27, 16:32–33; Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6–7).
- Communal Peace - Peace with the people of God through the work of Jesus- When we trust in Christ we are reconciled to God and brought into peace with His people, His Body (Colossians 3:15b; 1 Corinthians 12:12–13; Ephesians 2:13–20).
In this context Paul’s primary focus is ‘communal peace.’ Christ has given us peace with one another and we are called to let that peace “rule in our hearts.”
Understanding the rule of peace: What does it mean to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts?
- The word for “rule” that Paul uses is a word that comes from the world of athletics. It is the same word we use to describe the rule of an umpire or official. We are called to let the peace of Christ have the final ruling or say. Peace is the final arbiter and the highest authority.
Reconciling the Work of Christ and Our Work in Establishing Peace
- His Work- The peace that is to rule has been established through Christ. This peace is Christ-given and Christ-sustained and it is better than any peace we could create on our own (Ephesians 2:14–15).
- Our Work- We are called to submit to and maintain the peace that Christ has already established (Ephesians 4:1–7).
Common Misunderstandings about Letting Peace Rule
- Letting peace rule does not imply passivity- Striving for peace does not mean being passive. It may look like standing for truth or justice when no one else will. It will often look like being willing to do hard things.
- Letting peace rule does not mean minimizing or overlooking sin- The call to peace is not a call to ignore sin. In fact, our peace is threatened when we allow sin to go unchecked (Galatians 6:1-2; Hebrews 3:12-13).
- Letting peace rule does not mean avoiding hard issues or conversations- When we let peace rule we do what is necessary to deal with hard issues and we are willing to have hard conversations.
- Letting peace rule must always be accompanied by love- As we strive to let peace rule we will have hard conversations, confront sin and stand for truth, but all of this must be saturated in love (Colossians 3:14).
The Results: What are the results of being a church who lets the peace of Christ rule in our hearts?
- We can experience the joy living the way God created us to live, at peace with one another- Our world is not at peace but Christ has invited us into His Body and He has given us peace. As we choose to live in light of what He has given then we get to experience a foretaste of eternity.
- We can be an example and a catalyst for peace in the larger church– For many, the church has a reputation of division and disunity. It should be our prayer that as we learn to let peace rule that we are an example and an agent for change in the larger church.
- Our example of peace can be a witness and invitation to the world - The human soul longs for peace and throughout time people have been trying to find a means of achieving peace. Jesus is the only means of true peace. Does our witness reveal that we have found peace? Is our example calling others to come and enjoy peace? (John 17:23)
- As we let peace rule we should be motivated to give thanks to God- We are prone to forgetting the goodness of God. As Paul gives this admonition to live in peace he follows it with this: be thankful. To the extent that we experience peace we should give thanks to God (Col. 3:15).