As the years pass, the percentage of people attending church on a regular basis declines. Instead of growing stronger and influencing the society around us, the body of Christ grows weaker and weaker. Jesus warned us that a house divided could not stand. Yet, we have allowed satan to come in and use the differences in our denominations to divide us rather than focusing on our common ground and encouraging each other. Paul told us over and over how important it is for Christians to stand together as one body, the body of Christ. We are no longer able to stand because we refuse to stand together. Instead, the body of Christ is ripped apart from the inside because of our lack of love for Christ and each other. When we disparage and discourage our brothers and sisters, we violate the two greatest commands. The commands to love our Lord with all our hearts, mind, and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. Is it any wonder that the outsiders look at the Church and decide not to become a part of the family? We must show the world the love of Jesus and the peace and the joy that comes with that love rather than the image of a torn and decaying body. We get enough of that from the society around us. As long as the foundation is the name of Jesus, Jesus alone, no other name and no other way, the houses can be different and still compliment each other.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 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. — Col. 3:15-17 NIV
The word that Jesus used for peace in John 14:27 when He said, “my peace I leave with you” is the Greek word “eirene” pronounced a-ra-na. Like shalom in the Old Testament, it has a much more complex meaning than just an absence of war or conflict. If you look up shalom in the Strong’s Concordance, you will find a long list of what shalom can mean to us.
According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full
This is “the peace of Christ” and that is what the word conveyed to the disciples. It is also what Jesus has given to all of us who accept Him as our Savior and make Him Lord of our lives. Is there anything missing from this list that we need to live lives that are full of peace and joy? Let us be thankful and allow this “message of Christ to dwell among us richly”. To “dwell” means to live in a specified place. For that to happen in our lives, we must meditate on the Word of God and store his Word in our hearts. Then when problems arise in our lives and the lives of those around us, we can encourage ourselves and others with the Word, psalms, hymns and Spiritual songs. Jesus died on the cross that we might live abundant lives full of peace and joy. So, when satan comes around with all of his lies, we can rebuke him with the Word, just as Jesus did.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. — John 10:10 NASB
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited..—Romans 12:16 NIV
To live in harmony or peace requires us to put the needs of others above ours. To develop and maintain a relationship requires giving from both sides. It isn’t give and take, it is give and then give some more. To do this requires each of us to be humble, not just with those close to us, but with the strangers we meet on the street. We should never presume that we are better or of higher position than those that God brings across our path. Our birth and our address do not give us, as Christians, any right to feel or act better than others. In fact, it requires us to do just the opposite. It requires us to love the “unlovable” and to touch the “untouchables”, just as Jesus did. If ever, we should meet someone and presume that we are of higher or better position than they are, it is pride that makes us feel that way. Presumption and pride are sins.
12 People cannot see their own mistakes. Forgive me for my secret sins.
13 Keep me from the sins of pride; don’t let them rule me. Then I can be pure
and innocent of the greatest of sins. Psalm 19:12,13 NCV
14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.–Col. 3:14-17 (NLT)
Yesterday’s writing ended with us clothing ourselves in the characteristics of Jesus. The outer covering of all those characteristics must be love. The love of Christ wraps around us, reaches out and touches others and binds us all together in unity and perfect harmony. Jesus promised us a peace that passes understanding and we have that when Jesus is ruling our hearts. The Good News about Jesus fills our lives. Then we are to teach others that message using the wisdom He gives us. That love and unity is how we should represent Jesus to unbelievers. To quote Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.” Most of all, we should always have “an attitude of gratitude” thanking God for all His love and blessings. That attitude comes from a heart filled with joy and causes our lips to sing His praises all day, every day!
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.–Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)
Living out the love of God in our lives effectively requires us to spend time in prayer. There are times when we know that we need to pray but we just don’t quite know how to approach God about it. Just start a simple prayer and we find that suddenly we are praying about someone or something that we had not planned. There are times when we may be so compassionate about something that we just run out of words to pray. Just remain quietly in the attitude of prayer and God’s Holy Spirit will search your heart and communicate the words to God. While all this is going on, remember that we have an advocate (Jesus) with the Father who is also praying for us. Our simple prayers become effective prayers because the Trinity is praying with us and for us, separately and in unity. This should cause us to pray believing that God will answer us, so we should always end our prayers with praise and thanksgiving.