Rooted in Christ Week 7
"Living Together"

Pastor Terry Inman

05-22-16

 

Last week we learned about “Living Above”—setting our hearts and minds above where Christ is exalted. Since we died with Christ and we now live in Christ we are to discard our lifeless earthy actions and attitudes.

 

Paul itemized five actions, immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed and five attitudes, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language.

 

He insists we shed these in favor of seven expressions of God’s love;compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness. (Col. 3:12-14 NIV) I hope you have reviewed the list!

 

Now Paul gets down to earth—he brings heaven to earth. How do we live out these Christ-like qualities in our human relationships?

Last week we talked about “Living Above” today it’s “Living Together”.  

 

One of my college professors quoted this, “Oh to live with saints above –that surely will be glory. But to live on earth with saints below well that’s another story!” Paul thinks we should all just get along!

 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Col. 3.15 NIV)

 

If our hearts and minds are fixed above we will enjoy “the peace of Christ”. Sexual immorality and unresolved anger disturb the peace. Notice Paul identifies the source of this peace as, “the peace of Christ”!

 

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you.” (Isa. 26.3 NKJV)

 

Peace it’s not our personal ability to stay cool, calm and collected it is “Christ’s peace”. When we let him rule our hearts and minds we will have peace with God and everyone else.

 

“Peace”(Gr: eriene) in this passage means to join, to make one again, to be together, to be reconciled, or to live in harmony.

 

This peace, (oneness) rules our hearts because we belong to each other. We are connected. We are members of one body, the Body of Christ! We are not just a collection of unique individuals we are a whole community.

 

I am excited about a new series we are beginning in June, “Why Church”. Our Pastors are going to give us a fresh look at who we are and what we do as the body of Christ in our world. I’ve said it before. “You can’t really believe in Christ without belonging to his body!”

 

Some people struggle getting fully involved and integrated in the Church because they have been hurt or they fear conflict. We will always have inner conflicts and differences among Christians. Christ’s peace must be the arbitrator. We are to do nothing that would violate Christ’s peace.

 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”. The word “rule” here means, “umpire”. The peace of Christ is the official referee in our hearts! Friction in our relationships can cause emotional, physical and spiritual stress.

 

Paul tells us how to keep our peace. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4.6-7 NIV)

 

When we die to our old nature and daily clothe ourselves with Christ’s compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness—the peace of Christ will rule our hearts.

 

Paul tells us how to promote peace in our relationships. “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.” (Col. 3.16 NIV)

 

The word, the “logos” is the living word of Christ. It is the good news of the gospel and the life teachings of Christ. To “dwell richly” is to let his word live large in us. His ideals and values are to be deeply treasured and embedded in us. To be “Rooted in Christ” is to live grounded in his word!

If his life and words are deep-seated in us they will also be on the tip our tongue. Jesus will be the core of our communication. His values will get expressed with wisdom, in teaching, and admonishing one another.

 

This happens naturally in conversation with friends, parents and children. It occurs in worship services, classes or in small group gatherings. You may remember Paul used this expression once before in this letter…

 

We proclaim him, (declaring) admonishing (warning) and teaching (training) everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect (mature) in Christ. (Col. 1.28 NIV)

 

Speaking and also singing are ways of sharing with one another the rich deposit of Christ’s living word in us. The second part of this verse says…

 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col. 3.16 NIV)

 

You get the picture here that we are to be so filled with Christ and His word that it just flows out of us with wisdom, instruction, counsel, and song. “Psalms” were the lyrics we have recorded in the scriptures. “Hymns” are compositions of verses and choruses that teach and inspire.

 

Every great move of God in history seems to be accompanied by new songs and hymns. We have the great historical hymns of the church and we should value them. They teach and affirm God’s truth and glory.

 

Today there is a new generation of revival worship that is capturing the hearts of this generation. Last week Oracle Arena in Oakland was jammed with people singing along with the Hillsong United from Australia.

 

A few weeks ago a new worship release coming out of Bethel Music in Redding sold more downloads than any thing else on ITunes! Paul also mentions singing “spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”.

 

A grateful heart will express uninhibited praise with emotion and elation.

These spontaneous tunes known or unknown will just pour out of a heart overflowing with thankfulness? Paul said, “I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” (1 Cor. 14.15 NIV)

It not about the preacher, the teacher or the performer it’s about Jesus. Paul add this instruction, “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. 3.17 NIV)

 

This the third time in the last few verses Paul has mentioned the virtue of “thankfulness”. An attitude of gratitude toward God and his people goes a long ways to promoting peace. Tell someone right now how much you appreciate him or her! It’s hard to stay mad at people you are grateful for!

 

Now Paul focuses this discussion of “Living Together” on specific relationships. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. The “peace of Christ” rules or referees all our earthy relationships.

 

This not so much about rights as it is responsibility. Before we get into the conversation about wives, husbands, parents, children, slaves and masters let me mention that this is a condensed version of Paul’s more extensive instructions to the church in Ephesus.

 

In (Ephesians 5) Paul paints a lovely parallel of marriage and Christ and His bride the Church. Married couples love and submit to one another like Christ and His Church. The rest of the passage lays out how we relate to each other in specific roles and responsibilities.

 

Here in Colossians Paul begins with, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (Col. 3.18 NIV) In Ephesians He first said “submit to one another.” Notice here he says, “as is fitting in the Lord” Fitting means proper or appropriate.It also says, “in the Lord”. Jesus is Lord not us!

 

Submission here is not subservient capitulation to a superior gender. It is best described in this passage. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2.3-4 NIV)

 

If you love your spouse like Christ loves His church you will not dominate manipulate or capitulate you will support each another as is “fit” in Christ.

Next Paul address us guys. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Col. 3.19 NIV)

I think this is one of the shortest verses in the whole letter. Paul knows we don’t have the best attention span! Too the Ephesian husbands, He said it this way, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph. 5.25 NIV)

 

Now to fully understand what he means by “love them and not be harsh with them”, let’s go back a few verses to Paul’s seven expressions of love. (Col. 3.12-14 NIV) This is the best backdrop for marital love.  

 

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col. 3.12-14 NIV) This is God’s love language!

 

Next Paul talks to the family. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Col. 3.20 NIV)

 

Again Ephesians expands this a bit. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Eph. 6.1-3 NIV)

 

Teachable and respectful kids live more successful and longer lives! You want obedient and honoring children? Raise them with love and discipline.

 

Paul says, Fathers, do not embitter (provoke) your children, or they will become discouraged. (Col. 3.21NIV) Kids that have been abandoned, ignored, yelled at or put down, become “discouraged”.

The ancient Greek means… “spiritless, disheartened or dismayed”.

 

In Ephesians Paul wrote, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6.4)

 

Raise them up--don’t put them down!    

 

Finally in that ancient “class” culture Paul says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” (Col. 3.22 NIV)

This is not an endorsement of human trafficking! Without going into long explanation let me just say that servants in those days were much like domestic help and day labors today. They were not typically forced labor; they were paid even though may not have always been treated justly.

 

But Paul has some things to say about this also. “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Col. 4.1NIV)

 

God is the ultimate boss, whether you’re a worker or a manager, God is an equal opportunity employer. Earlier in this chapter Paul said this…

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”  (Col. 3.11 NIV)

 

So here’s Paul’s final advice for the “peace of Christ” at work or at home. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

(Col. 3.23-25 NIV)

 

If we exercise our responsibilities the Lord he will defend our rights! So let’s search out hearts. Do we have the peace of Christ? Is His peace ruling our relationships? Is there any dis-order or dis-ease in our hearts? Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you now.

 

He is our peace! He wants to help us keep the peace—living together!