Col 3:12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, Col 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Col 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (ESV)
In my last blog entry, I discussed some of the practical implications of a new life in Christ. There is a dynamic tension that exists with so many biblical truths. For instance, we are admonished to "put off" those things that are incompatible with new life in Jesus. But positively, we are to "put on" those qualities that are consistent with our new nature in Christ. There are a few things I want to discuss about the passage of scripture listed above today.
First of all, notice that these qualities or attributes that we are to "put on" are identical to the nature of God. Humility, kindness, compassion, forgiveness- these are all Divine attributes. Perhaps it could be said that we are most like Him, when we display these lovely characteristics. It goes without saying, that these attributes do not seem to come about naturally for us. In fact, they are quite a struggle without the help of the Holy Spirit (especially that stuff about "bearing with one another"). Thankfully, we are not left on our own to develop these attributes, but rather we are encouraged to put them on. They are available to us based on our relationship with Christ. They are His attributes- and ours....because we are...."in Christ" and Christ is "in us" (Colossians 1:27).
There is certainly a theme that should be obvious from Colossians 3:12-14. Having a relationship with God, involves interacting with other people! Some of the greatest challenges to our sanctification will arise from our ability (or inability) to relate well to others within the community of faith. I encourage you to read and meditate on this small passage of scripture in the coming days. After reading verses 12-14, you should come away with this conclusion; there is no personal conflict that the church faces that it cannot overcome!!!
Sadly, many of us tend to paint the church with a brush of idealism. Paul is a realist, but he's also an optimist. Not blind optimism, based simply on some notion of luck that magically all will simply "work out in the end". But rather an optimism based on the ability of God's grace to intervene and heal any given situation. Look at the scenarios Paul presents- putting up with each other's attitudes- dealing with complaints and quarrels with one another. Does it happen in the church? You betcha!
So how do we overcome these things individually and corporately? We must constantly remind ourselves that we are the beneficiaries of longsuffering, gentleness, humility, kindness, forbearance, and (thank God!) forgiveness. Paul reminded the Colossians that Christ had forgiven them, and thus they have a command to forgive one another.
I don't know about you, but I've been sufficiently challenged by all of this. Until next time....