February 20 I Sunday
“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another…over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
For those of us who are Christian, Christ not only reconciled us to God, but He also reconciled us to one another—into a community, into a body of believers. Yet, as we have experienced over the pandemic, there are some practical realities about living out life among one another that are complex. Paul unpacks how our position in Christ should influence our practices and behaviours towards one another. He says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). When we place our faith in Christ, He comes and lives in us by His Spirit, and we are conjoined with Him. Where He is, we are.
Paul then becomes pragmatic about accessing the resources of heaven and putting into practice holy living, as we still wrestle with the flesh. We are in two places at one time. Although we have been raised with Christ, we are still walking out life on this earth. We are beset by the flesh, the world and the culture around us, because we have an adversary seeking to distract us. Paul tells us, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Out of our relationship with Christ and in dependence upon Him, we have resources to put these things to death.
In relation to community life within the body of Christ, Paul urges, “Now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other....Bear with each other and...Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:8-9, 13).
Life in community is a blessing, but after a while, people’s tendencies, habits and personalities will start to grind on our nerves. The reality of life in Christian community will expose our sinfulness, like a mirror reflecting all the broken places inside ourselves that have yet to experience putting into action the reality of Christ in us.
Too often we walk into the church expecting to find the perfect blessed unity and community, but we leave disappointed when the people do not measure up. Community is not easy, but it is essential to the Christian life; it will require courage, confessing our sins, extending forgiveness and, most importantly, seeing Christ in one another.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for reconciling me to God and to others. Please grant me the courage, grace and love to see Christ in others. Amen!