Christ’s Preeminence Displayed in Christian Fellowship: Col. 3:12-17
When we speak of Christian fellowship, we are not merely speaking of attending worship services or even participation in a life group. The idea of Christian fellowship here goes much deeper than that. It is a manner of living that is contrary to worldly values and logic. What Paul is alluding to here is that the truth of Christ’s preeminence should have a real, visible impact in how we relate to one another. Our present relationships should reflect a future reality where all mankind lives in peace and harmony in the presence of our Savior, where there are no prejudices based on social status, sex, national origin, or the color of our skin, and where the only thing that matters is our position in Christ. So, how do we reflect the preeminence of Christ in our relationships with one another?
- Compassionate Hearts. We should live in a constant attitude of compassion towards each other. In other words, this attitude should be one that exists no matter our feelings about the other person or how they relate to us. The attitude of the other matters little. The question is “Am I easy to live with?”
- Kindness. God has shown kindness to us. Therefore, we are to show kindness to others. Just as God’s kindness was active towards us (“while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”), our kindness should be active towards others. The idea here is assertive, as opposed to reactive, kindness.
- Humility. “The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself, he simply doesn’t think of himself at all.”—Andrew Murray.
- Meekness. The Greek word for meekness here is “power under control.” Too often, we associate meekness with weakness, and that is just not the case. The idea Paul is trying to portray is of someone who has their emotions under control. The meek are those we look to in times of crisis, for they are unshaken by their circumstances.
- Patience. I don’t know about you, but I blow this one all the time. In this digital age, we’re used to getting what we want when we want it. We need to guard our hearts against impatience with one another.
- Forbearance. The idea with forbearance is withholding from asserting my rights for the sake of the other. The rightness or wrongness of the other party doesn’t matter. I’m forbearing for God’s sake, not theirs.
- Forgiveness. It is not enough to bear with the other person and show kindness, because we can do so while holding a grudge. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven by God, which is a high standard.
- Love. Love is the girdle, or support, that makes all of the above possible. It is important to note that the love Paul is talking about here is not a love you can generate; it’s a love you must cultivate. This love is not natural. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that is poured into your heart by God. The more we appreciate and live in the love God gives us, the more we are free to love others unconditionally.
Just like last week, the key to achieving these attributes does not lie in behavior modification. It’s all about Who rules our hearts. If Christ rules our hearts, then these attributes will be the natural outflow of the peace and love that comes from a life aligned with Him. By growing in our love of, knowledge of, and thankfulness for Christ, we can achieve a peace that this world could never offer.
- Review the 8 attributes of those who allow Christ to rule their hearts. Which of the attributes reflect your character and relationships? With which do you struggle?
- How would displaying these attributes change your relationships? If everyone displayed these attributes, how would it change our homes? Our church? Our community? Our nation?
- Contrast the characteristics listed with the characteristics valued in our society. How are they different? How are they the same? How can we display these characteristics in the midst of the national turmoil over social justice and the pandemic?