What have you kept God from doing in your life? Is that a provocative question? I think it is. I even feel a little presumptuous in asking it. But I do wonder how many people have been praying and praying for peace, and yet have not allowed peace to come into their lives? Do we ask God for the possible, and then do all we can to make it impossible for Him to answer the very request we’ve made?
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 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. ~Colossians 3:15-16
I’m intrigued by the sense here of what we are to ‘let’ happen in our lives. Let Christ rule. He doesn’t force Himself on us, we are free to reject Him. I don’t know why people do, but I know that a lot of people refuse to allow Christ to rule in their hearts. This is written to Christians, and perhaps some of those addressed were having trouble letting Christ rule. Can I get a witness? Keeping myself off of the throne of my heart and mind is a non stop endeavor. But when Christ rules, peace reigns. It is the age-old struggle of what I really want, and what the flesh tries to wrestle from me.
It strikes me that the rule of Christ is enhanced … helped … strengthened by the presence of Christ in the community of faith. Let (there’s that word again) the message of Christ dwell … live … thrive …be at home … among you (Christians, churches). And let the presence of Christ be rich, not just giving lip service to the idea. When the faith-filled gather together the focus is on teaching, admonishing, being grateful. This is demonstrated in the most unlikely way: singing.
Not everybody likes to sing. I do. I am not going to win a contest on a television show, but I like to sing. That’s not the point, is it? I think singing in the Christian church has become an art form rather than a teaching and admonishing act. Blue lights and fog machines have joined electric instruments and soaring vocalists and turned it all into a concert. Easy for me to say, in my tribe we do not use instruments. Do you think that makes us immune to having poor attitudes and perspectives toward singing? Not a chance. Every song leader is subject to comments about the style of singing, how old or new a song is, whether he sang it too high or too low or too many verses. All of these comments are likely well-meaning, but they reflect the entertainment value of the worship event rather than a concentration on the teaching and admonishing being done. So no matter what your practice is when you gather to worship, there are challenges and there are instructions to follow.
Just a few observations on this text to close:
*Worship is for us. I hear people sometimes say that it’s all about God, not us. I think that is only half of the story. We benefit from worship – as clearly seen in this text. There is something going on in worship with the family of faith that we cannot accomplish on our own. Anyone who says they no longer need the church should not suspect that they have grown beyond the local church, but instead have fallen prey to individualistic determinism not to be found in Scripture. We need each other. I can’t sing to someone else who isn’t there. We cannot receive admonishment from someone who is absent.
*Worship is for God. We are to sing with gratitude in our hearts to God. It is appropriate and needful to balance songs addressed to God and to fellow Christians .. both are needed when we gather.
*If I’m going to seek a rich relationship with God, then I’m going to have to let Him reign. He is not coming to me on my terms. He comes on His terms.
*When Christ reigns in my heart then I am at peace with Him and with others. The Christian who is always at war with others is also at war with Christ who desires to sit in the seat currently occupied by someone’s ego.
*Thankful…Grateful…mentioned twice in this short text. I have to believe that when Christ reigns in our hearts He produces a grateful spirit. That changes us.
*When we gather, the message of Christ must find it’s dwelling. He is at home in our gatherings because we welcome Him, His word, His rule, and His work in our hearts.
*Sing psalms. Sing hymns. Sing songs from the Spirit. I don’t think it matters how it all looks and sounds. I just want to encourage a participatory spirit. Even when it comes to songs you do not personally like. Why? Because that song may speak the Word of Christ to someone near.
How is all of this supposed to happen? It happens when you let it. It fails to happen when you prevent it. Spend some time in prayer asking Christ to reign in your heart – and to make you sensitive to times when you try to hijack the throne to get your own will accomplished.
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