I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means - Part 3

I'm a big fan of asking God to give me direction, especially when I'm facing a difficult decision. But a lot of times when I'm sitting in my office talking to people about decisions they have made (or are about to make), they tell me they're confident in their decisions because "God gave them a peace about it." Then they quote Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..." to back things up.

The problem is: I've prayed and had a peace about some really stupid decisions in my life. And, as a pastor I've heard about some really boneheaded decisions followed by, "but God just really gave me a peace about it."

Yeah, leaving my wife to reconnect with my high-school girlfriend and quitting my job to pursue a career in acting seemed like a bad idea at first... but I have such a peace about it...

I don't think Colossians 3:15 means what you think it means.

If you back up two verses, you see that Paul is telling the Colossians to "bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another..." He goes on to say "put on love, which binds [all virtue] together in perfect unity."

This is a passage about how to fight fair, not a passage about how to make decisions.

The Greek word for letting the peace of Christ "rule" in your hearts is a word that means "referee." Paul is saying that when we fight, we should let the peace of Christ serve as our referee. What is the peace of Christ? The same writer says elsewhere that "having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1), even when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

Colossians 3:15 is reminding us that we should do as much to pursue peace with others as Christ did to pursue our peace with God, even when we don't deserve it. It doesn't have anything to do with decision making unless we're deciding whether or not to fight fair.


Deb said...

I really like this series of posts. Thanks!