Summary: All of the traits are to be connected with Christ, of course, but the Apostle Paul seems to emphasize the connection between peace and Christ. What happens when we contemplate the “peace of Christ”?
Colossians 3:15 Ruled by Peace
1/18/15 D. Marion Clark
You are wearing the perfect outfit. Every part looks good; they all match; and they fit the occasion. Everything is fine as long as no one catches on to how you feel inside. Our verse takes us inside to the heart.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
The first terminology to understand is “peace of Christ.” We are not told merely to have peace but “peace of Christ.” With the dress code in the previous verses, the traits stand alone – compassion, kindness, love, etc. All of the traits are to be connected with Christ, of course, but the Apostle Paul seems to emphasize the connection between peace and Christ. What happens when we contemplate the “peace of Christ”?
Without Christ, we think in terms of having peaceful feelings within ourselves, a peace that comes from quieting our spirits. We accomplish such peace by various means – meditation, yoga, seeking out a quiet place, listening to soft music, and so on. As helpful as such activities might be to feel peaceful, that is not the peace of Christ.
Without Christ, we might think in terms of spiritual harmony with God. Our spirits are not in harmony with God’s Spirit, which we obtain by meditation and other spiritual disciplines that get us in tune with God and the spiritual life. Certainly we want to be in tune with God, and spiritual practices can help, but that is not the peace of Christ.
So what is? It is the peace of reconciliation. Consider these verses from Romans 5:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:10).
Without Christ we are counted enemies of God. With Christ we are reconciled to God. That is the peace that we now have with him. We are not at odds with him. We are no longer under God’s wrath, but rather have been justified by faith in the work of Jesus Christ, a work that brings us into peaceful relations with God.
It is that peace – the peace of Christ – which the verse says to let “rule in your hearts.” What, then, does it mean for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts?
The basic meaning of the word for “rule” is “umpire.” It is taken from the sports arena, where an umpire or referee enforced and served as arbitrator of the rules, just as our modern sports have such officials who, not only determine when rules are violated, but also settle differences of opinion. The Bulldogs believe they stopped the first down; the Gamecocks think they made it. The referees settle the issue by their ruling.
In a similar manner peace rules the controversies that rage in our hearts. We feel pulled in two directions. Disputes wage in our hearts. We have inner turmoil. The peace of Christ is what can settle these disputes and allow us to move forward in a positive manner.
So far we have considered peace as a personal, individual peace. The next half of the verse brings us back to the point of the whole passage, namely what needs to take place in the church body.
to which indeed you were called in one body
We are called to the peace of Christ in the body of Christ. In Paul’s longer treatise about the body of Christ in Ephesians, he writes:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:1-3).
In this passage Paul presents peace as the bond of the church, similar to verse 14 in our passage that presents love as the bond uniting all of the traits for the church. As love rules over the traits to unite them in harmony, so peace rules over us, the members of the body, to unite us in harmony.
And then the last sentence of our verse: And be thankful. We will discuss this thought later.
To recap, in verses 12-14 we are told to put on spiritual traits of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgives. Above them put on love which binds them together in harmony. Then, let the peace of Christ serve as the umpire over our hearts so that we will live in peace within ourselves and with our brothers and sisters who are fellow members of the body of Christ.