May 12, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Colossians 3:15 (NRSV)
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
God wants his people to live together in peace. In fact, he calls us to this very thing. We’re to choose to act in ways that are loving and just, seeking to experience in our relationships the wholeness that comes from Jesus Christ.
Today’s devotion is part of the series God’s Transformational Calling.
Colossians 3:15 is one of those verses in the Bible that is often quoted, even loved, but generally misunderstood. When we read “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” we’re inclined to think this refers to an experience of inner calm and wellbeing. After all, that’s the sort of peace that belongs in our hearts. Right?
Well, not exactly. Surely Christ offers that kind of peace, but that’s not the point of Colossians 3:15. We get a clue to the meaning of peace in this verse from the following clause, “to which indeed you were called in the one body.” “The one body” is quite clearly the church, the body of Christ (see Colossians 1:18). So, the peace to which we are called “in the one body” is something shared, something corporate, something relational.
This understanding actually fits perfectly with the meaning of the words in the first clause, “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Though “peace” in the Bible can mean “inner peace,” more often it represents a relational condition, a situation in which people are living together well. “Peace” in the Bible includes but is far more than the absence of conflict. It’s an experience of life as God intended it to be, filled with justice, righteousness, and wholeness.
But what about the phrase “in your hearts”? Doesn’t this point to some kind of inner tranquility? No, not necessarily. Though we think of our heart as the center of our emotions, in Scripture the heart is more than this. It is the location of our will, our choice-fulness. So, “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” actually means something like, “Exercise your will to choose to live in the relational wholeness that comes from Christ.” (You can learn more about this kind of peace in Ephesians 2:11-22.)
This sort of corporate peace is not extra credit for Christians. It’s not something we’re free to take or leave. Rather, relational peace is something to which have been called by God. Notice that, though this calling comes to each one of us, it’s something we share together “in the one body.” God calls us as his church to peace, to a life filled with God’s love, justice, and prosperity. We’re to live in harmony with each other as we share together in God’s grace and respond together to God’s calling.
If this devotion seems strangely familiar, it may be because I wrote a similar one about three weeks ago (see “Called to Peace in Relationships”). What we saw in 1 Corinthians 7:15 is reiterated in Colossians 3:15. Given how challenging it can be for churches to live together in Christ’s peace, it seemed good to me to remind us once again of our call to peace.
When have you experienced in real-time the corporate peace that comes from Christ?
Do you think of yourself as called to peace in the sense of Colossians 3:15?
What might you do to strengthen and deepen the peace of your Christian community?
Do something this week in response to the last question. Act in some way to strengthen and deepen the peace of your Christian community.
Gracious God, you have called us to peace. You have called us to live together in the harmony and justice of Christ. So today I pray for my Christian community that we will respond to your call. Help us to choose the way of peace in our corporate life. Help me, Lord, to be a peacemaker in my church. Bless us, I pray, with the gift of your peace. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Set Your Mind on Things Above: Heavenly Living for Earthly Good (Colossians 3:1–16)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.