Diving right in, Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV):
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish on another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I read this and thought, “What’s with all the thankfulness and gratitude? Why does it play such a big part in this portion of the letter?”
We’ve been going over such a neat section here about the fullness of God, understanding His will for us, and being hidden with Christ in God that this section bring a climactic understanding. I’m reminded of an actor that asks the director, “I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do. What’s my motivation here?” This is the motivation, the application, what it looks like to be part of this community of God.
A thankful heart understands what peace looks like in the area of community. We all suffer from conflict with others and sometimes try and do all we can to avoid confrontation. But there’s no peace that comes with avoidance, only the possibility of bitterness and envy. Our excuses to find a way to compromise or solve the issue comes from a hidden falsehood that drives our rational against peace: we have nothing in common so we don’t get along. Whatever! We have Christ! We’ve been redeemed by the same love! If we get back understanding and being thankful to God for what He’s done for us, His sacrifice to stretch out the hand of peace in reconciliation toward us, peace with others comes naturally! Conflict can be resolved. We’re striving for the same thing.
Showing gratitude to God helps us understand our place in teaching and training others in following Him. Our focus remains on the One who has given us a message of salvation, a message of hope and a future because of grace. With our focus on Him, our teaching is done in complete love. The wisdom refers to what we mentioned earlier in the post, My Prayer for This Year; knowing what God wants for us in our life, what life pleasing to Him looks like having been revealed to us by the Spirit through His word. Pride in our knowledge of God has no place in our hearts when we remain grateful for what God has done for us.
Giving thanks to God brings purpose to our work. Praise through work can be given to God through an attitude of gratefulness. Remembering His work on the cross should bring us to a place of unworthiness and a desire to praise Him in everything we do. It’s why we strive for excellence. It can also give us a better understanding of being Hidden in Him.
To get to a place of community, it begins personal and individual gratitude to God and spreads through the rest of the church. Have you noticed that a grateful heart is contagious? Imagine the church constantly living in a state of gratitude toward God’s faithfulness! This is what the community of believers is supposed to look like. Our collective witness to the world comes from a grateful heart to God for His Love for us!
I’m convinced that community has a difficult time forming when aren’t truly grateful for God’s gift, His grace and mercy toward us through His Son’s sacrifice, and hope because of His raising from the dead. We must ask ourselves if the conflict within the church, the bitterness toward others in our family of believers, and our defiance of following Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is because of a lack of gratitude for His love. Purpose with me to change our attitudes and regain a thankful heart, a grateful spirit toward God and His love for us so we may find and truly experience this community God has in mind for us. Maybe the church will shine so brightly in this world that the dark shroud of doubt and falsehood will fall with the big bang they say it came with.