From the Preacher’s Pen ~
Every time that you go to the doctor they take a certain set of “vitals.” The reason is to establish a “baseline” or standard for you and your body and to compare it to healthy standards. Ideally you would have a single doctor or family physician that would see you for most of, if not all, your life. That doctor’s records would then show how you progressed over time and give important information about your health.
As those “vitals” deviate from the norm you would be checked out and corrections made. We know what it’s like to have our body temperature, our weight, blood pressure or some other readings vary and then have to be treated to get things back in line.
It should come as no surprise that the Great Physician establishes a healthy “norm” for us as Christians. In the New Testament the majority of the letters to churches and individual Christians deals with this exact set of circumstances. Such passages as Galatians 5:16-24 remind us of both the signs of sickness of the soul in “deeds of the flesh” and the signs of good spiritual health in the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Let’s take a moment to consider some of those “vitals” as we consider…
Peace and Thanksgiving
Our official holiday of Thanksgiving is past and the New Testament book that we are studying today is Colossians. What makes this convergence so beautiful is what Paul tells the Colossian Christians: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
Think about that a moment. In John 14:25-26 as Jesus foretells His death and eventual departure from this earth, He promises God’s Holy Spirit is coming to be with His disciples. The purpose is to teach and remind the Apostles of all that Jesus had said. The Great Commission commands that they pass on through teaching all these things that Christians might also pass them on to others (cf. Matthew 28:18-20).
As Jesus continues the thought (John 14:27) He describes this gift that He is leaving behind as God’s own peace like this: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
In Romans 14:17 Paul reminds us: for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus had said before him, Paul associates God’s peace with His Spirit that is in His people. The constant, consistent picture painted by God is that as Christians are IN Christ so is God in His fullness (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) IN us! (Cf. Romans 6:11; 12:5 along with 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19 and dozens more!)
Just in case you are wondering how we tell that we truly have the Lord’s Spirit in us, Paul gives a test in Galatians 5:22-23 with the “fruit of the Spirit.” Since those qualities include faithfulness any danger of fake Christians is eliminated!
Now let’s put all that together with Paul’s comment that we began with in Colossians 3:15. God’s own peace is to not only live in us but rule in us. Indeed, that is exactly what we have been called to be: united with our Savior (Romans 6:1-7).
As is always important, let’s read the next verse, Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
So, do you really belong to Christ? Does Christ and His word richly dwell in you? Are you active in fulfilling the Great Commission to share the Good News? Do you participate in the teaching and encouragement in singing? Are you truly thankful?
Is your Thanksgiving complete? As God’s son or daughter you have incredible promises and almost unimaginable blessings from your Heavenly Father! How can we be anything else but grateful and joyous when we belong to Christ? And how could we possible fail to share God’s Good News with others this week?
~ Lester P. Bagley