The following is the second in an a series of passages from Colossians 3 that have spoken powerfully to us in recent weeks:
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, HOLY and DEARLY LOVED, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. BEAR WITH EACH OTHER and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. FORGIVE as the Lord forgave YOU. And over all these virtues put on LOVE, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ dwell in you richly, since as members of one body you were called to PEACE. And BE YE THANKFUL." -Colossians 3:12-15 (NIV-ish)
Wow. So much to like here. So much to love. So much to be humbled by!
First of all, our house church here in Poznań has been studying the Lord's Prayer recently, beginning with (of course) the phrase , "Our Father." How amazing it is, then, to be the dearly loved children of the all-powerful Creator God!!
And how telling it is that our Father calls us to bear with each other in times of stress, misunderstanding, and disagreement. He even calls us to a seemingly impossible standard - to forgive each other as he has forgiven us! In other words...there is nothing that anyone on earth can do to us to make them unworthy of forgiveness. And we must also remember that God -in his love and infinite forgiveness- sought us out in our place of sin and brokenness, and called us to himself. So we are called to love each other (and the world)!
And finally: Paul reminds us that as Christians the peace of Christ can and ought to have full sway in our hearts and minds...not just as individuals, but as members of one body, the Body of Christ. As members of that body, he points out, we are inherently called to peace - not just with the world, but (first and foremost) with each other!
And finally the last bit, which I cribbed verbatim from Mr. Martin's King James Version (because I like the weight and phrasing so much - it sounds like a playful, mock-serious scolding from a loving uncle): "And BE YE THANKFUL." Paul stresses that God's love for us, his forgiveness for our sins, and his calling on our lives (individually and collectively) are not limitations; they are gifts from a loving Father who loves us so much and wants the very best for our lives.
Thanks be to God!