Server Outage Notice: is transfering to a new Server on Tuesday April 13th

2385 sermons as of July 24, 2024.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

Author:Rev. David Stares
 send email...
Congregation:Reformed Church of Masterton
 New Zealand
Title:Peace in Diversity
Text:Colossians 3:12-15 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Read also Deuteronomy 7

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. David Stares, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Colossians 3:12-15 – “Peace in Diversity”

Ordinarily on Sunday evenings I look at one of our confessions. However, what we know with our confessions is that they were written because of the needs of their time. And there is a great need of our time. And it was brought to our attention as churches during the recent online synod when it was reported that in one of our sister churches they had a church that was completely destroyed by division. And it wasn’t over a point of theology, it wasn’t about the sacraments, it wasn’t about the regulative principle of worship.

It was about masks. Some believed they were necessary, and others thought they were unnecessary, and there was disagreement, things got heated and the church was divided and now it doesn’t meet any more.

Now, I am not here to tell you who was right and who was wrong in that situation, or on that issue. But the fact is that the day that the gospel stopped being preached in the pulpit of that church, the devil had a celebration. He won the battle in that church because of a tiny piece of fabric. Making use of a difference of opinion.

And I suspect that there are similar differences of opinion in this congregation. Whether we should wear masks, get the vaccine, submit to the Government’s requirements at all. And what we need to realise is that the devil is a roaring lion, and he is hunting the church.

And that is why we are going to be looking at Colossians 3 together tonight, because God hasn’t left us without defenses. In fact, we have explicit instructions. And we are going to see those here.

That because God has so loved us, we will put on hearts of love for God’s people.

1) The Call of God

2) The Heart of Love

3) The Peace of Christ

1) The Call of God

Now, as we begin to delve into this passage together, we see that it arises out of a certain context. That Paul has been explaining what it means that we have been raised with Christ, and the face that he is glorified and that we will be glorified with him, such that we are already to have our minds fixed on the things above. And what does that mean? Well, to start off with it means getting rid of certain attitudes. It means laying aside the deeds of disobedience to God, but to live in the renewal that God accomplished for his people.

And this is the foundation that is represented also in our passage v.12. And what is amazing here is that Paul is making use of Old Testament language. Where we read in Deuteronomy 7 that God says of his people “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” That he has just finished saying that the kingdom of God is made up of a diverse group in which there is no distinction. And yet, still sharing the character of the old covenant people. There is a continuity and an expansion. That in the same way that no one could claim that the Old Covenant people of Israel were the masters of their own destiny and this is what were continued to see in Deuteronomy 7, that they were small and weak, but God accomplished their victories for them. He chose them, he saved them, he gave them a kingdom that they never earned.

And that was a foretaste for what God was planning to do in Jesus. And so Paul is saying that like those people, God’s New Covenant people have been chosen apart from anything they have done, in fact it is despite what they have done.

But in choosing them, God made them holy, meaning that he distinguished them from the rest of the world, God showered his love on them. And this he does with his church as well. He makes us holy, he makes us into a people who are one with each other and one with him. Who are separated because of our connection to him, because he has chosen us and because he has set his love on us.

2) The Heart of Love

But notice also how being chosen by God places responsibility on the shoulders of the people. As we read in Passages like Leviticus 11:44 they are called to be holy as God is holy. They need to respond to the gracious call and salvation of God by living in obedience to him. And this is that same thing that Paul says.

What does it mean to be holy?

It means to put on a certain heart. It means to have your attitudes and actions changed so that they reflect the attitude and heart of God. Look at the words that he uses.

The heart that God wants from us is one of compassion.

Compassion means that when we see that someone else is struggling we show sympathy and concern. The handmaiden to compassion is kindness.

Kindness is the action that is shown to someone who is struggling, the act of helping or benefiting someone who needs your help.

Humility means not considering yourself to be great, but rather placing yourself, your wants and needs below those of others, and because of that being ready and willing to serve them.

Gentleness or meekness means that we approach and speak to one another with a tone and with words that soothe, that bring peace, that don’t strike with heavy blows, but come to bring healing and help. Speaking with gentleness means that even confrontation does not feel like condemnation.

Patience means that we don’t demand that things happen on our timeline, but we understand that things and people take time, and we are willing to wait and work with people without growing frustrated or resentful.

But, of course, we know that sinners who are put together in a community will often sin against each other. And what is the solution to that problem? V.13 Here we have the two ways to respond to people. On the one hand we can ‘bear with them.’ That means that we can see how they are acting, and perhaps how they are acting towards us, but be willing to bear with their immaturity or failings. Or, the alternative is to, for more serious offenses seek reconciliation through confession and forgiveness.

But notice, that bearing with someone’s failings isn’t an excuse for division. Bearing with one another serves the ultimate goal of unity. And so what that means is that if you decide that you are willing to bear with the failings of someone else, that means it doesn’t get to be something that keeps you from speaking to that person, and it doesn’t get added to a tally in your mind. To bear with them means to forgive them and to love them without the need to go to them and address them about it. But of course, this shouldn’t be used in all cases, it is also the work of God’s grace to show a brother or sister their sin. So we bear with them or approach them as needed, all for the sake of maintaining a loving relationship.

And Love is the rousing conclusion of Paul’s instruction v.14. This is the crowning grace that unites all the other qualities together. Consider what Paul says about love in comparison to Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Love is the perfect bond of unity. It is the perfect glue that holds together a congregation, and it’s many faceted nature is summarized in the descriptions above.

Hear me now congregation: It is love, not 'sameness' that holds a church together. Let me say that again: It is love, not 'sameness' that holds a church together. And this is what we need in the days of Covid, because in actual fact we need it at all times as a church.That when we approach an action or a conversation, we need to approach it in love. We need to hot to that person with compassion and kindness, considering them more important than ourselves, the things they have to say more important than our own, and their opinions given priority. We speak in gentleness, we speak with patience, and we address them always with the intention to leave that conversation reconciled and united!

That is God’s vision for how we must love each other!

3) The Peace of Christ

Or to put it in other words v.15.

You see, his point here is that we have been called to peace. That along with our calling as those who are chosen of God, we are called to peace in Christ. Now, certainly, the peace of Christ speaks to the reconciliation that Christ accomplished. A peace that was declared at his birth that Jesus accomplishes the reconciliation between heaven and earth, between God and his people.

And because reconciliation has been accomplished for us, it makes its presence known in us. We experience the peace of Christ, we know that we are right with God. And if you don’t feel that peace tonight, you need to know that this is your right. Read it again, you have been called into the peace of Christ. You are the chosen, you are holy and beloved for the sake of him. There is nothing wrong with resting in the peace that he accomplished for you.

But it doesn’t stop there. You have the peace of Christ, but that peace is also brought to expression in the body of Christ, as we read in v.15. We were called in one body, and this is where we need to make peace, were we need to be committed to peace, why? Because of gratitude. As Paul says, be thankful.

What God says to his church is “if you are grateful to me for what I have done for you, show it by laboring for peace in my church. That doesn’t mean that we all have to agree on everything. God build his church with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, different ideas and opinions; and he binds us together and creates one beautifully diverse body. And we CAN both be diverse AND demonstrate the peace of Christ, if in thankfulness we are willing to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love for one another.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. David Stares, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. David Stares

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster

bottom corner