This series has been pretty dark so far, hasn’t it?
There’s a reason for that.
In this passage Paul begins by discussing the kinds of behaviors we ought to avoid, those than eventuate in division.
But now he turns toward the light: he lays out a course of behavior that lowers tension, that encourages people to live peaceably together.
It’s the way God’s people are supposed to live.
And as I’ve noted earlier, this lifestyle—what the KJV calls “conversation”—not only brings unity and peace to the family of God, who are empowered by the Spirit to live this way, but it brings ripple effects to the larger society by making God’s people agents of peace rather than turmoil.
Of course, the Truth of Christ does bring division; Jesus said so himself (Lk 12.51). But there is necessary division, and there is unnecessary, fleshly division, and the church need have no part in the latter when its members live out their new life in Christ.
So what is the lifestyle of light? What does it look like?
Paul lays out the specifics for us:
10 and [since you] have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 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. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
There’s a lot to consider here. Let me suggest a rough structure to guide us as we do that:
- The shared image of God serves as a basis for our unity across cultural divisions (Col 3.10-11).
- The fact that God has forgiven believers serves as a basis for how we treat others, including those who have not yet received that forgiveness (Col 3.12-13).
- Living out our unity as a body serves as a powerful invitation to those on the outside, who see the distinction between what we experience and what they do:
- Love (Col 3.14)
- Peace (Col 3.15)
- Encouragement (Col 3.16)
- Gratitude (Col 3.17)
We’ll begin to walk this brightly lit path in the posts to come.
There is no joy like the joy of walking in the light.