What if the salvation experience of every new believer in the world was completely contingent upon the actions and behavior of church people? Wow…we would really be in trouble. But the Church’s relational conduct does have a tremendous impact on the world looking in.
Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT) reads…
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Now, at first glance we can read this passage strictly from a generic view. I think we would all agree that these are valuable attributes for all people to live by. At closer examination, however, we see that Paul is writing to the church in the city of Colosse. To the Church! He’s reminding church people…you and I…to be kind, gentle, and patient with each other. To live out genuine love and peace….in the Church!
Why was he specifically talking to believers here? And more important, why do Paul’s words continue to speak to you and I today? I would suggest two points for us to focus on regarding these few verses.
- Paul knew that Christ’s Church would go through seasons of contention and division. Look at his words as a daily multi-vitamin. It is preventive maintenance.
- Paul also knew that any sort of ‘dysfunction’ in the church could negatively affect the witness of Christians to the unbelieving world looking in. We see this even today. There are masses of people in the U.S. who will not enter a church because they know someone who has experienced hurts there.
Read the above passage one more time. How might our Christian witness change if the world saw in our churches what Paul wrote above? What does this mean for those of us who serve in church leadership, and what should our approach be with our congregations?
Join the conversation. What are your experiences?