Summary: We need deep, lasting, abiding peace. The only thing like that is the peace of Christ.
This is a beautiful passage of Scripture. I love the picture it paints. Do you think in pictures? Who here is a visual learner? I definitely am!
My Dad was an accomplished artist, and he always taught me that when it comes to a painting, to visual design, the eye must be captivated by something in a painting, then the eye must be led, through the composition to the focal point of the painting.
Everything in the painting serves that focal point. If a work of art doesn’t have a point of focus, the eye wanders, it cannot land. It grows tired, bored, and then moves on. My Dad put a great deal of time into the composition of a painting. He discarded or paintings of his own that he felt were not good compositions.
The same is true of music. The songs we sing have verses and choruses. The choruses, which always repeat, are the focal point of the song. The key lyrics must be in the chorus. The verses point to the chorus. When I’m writing a song, I toil over the composition of it.
I’ve discarded hundreds of song ideas because I couldn’t get the composition right. I’ve noticed over the years that the songs of mine and other people that we do most often here, that are chosen by our other worship leaders, are always the ones with the best compositions.
There’s a ‘recipe’ for a good painting. There’s a recipe for a good song. And in this passage that we’re spending time with together today, there is a recipe for peace.
The Apostle Paul, the writer of this, one of the earliest letters to the church that we find in the Bible, was great at composing or putting together an inspired thought that worked at a gut level, at a head level and at a heart level.
In this passage his composition leads us through the essential ingredients of peace. He actually refers to the ‘ingredients’ or ‘components’ as a type of ‘clothing’ that we ‘put on’. So we’ll key that in mind as we get into the text.
Each ingredient pulls us along to the key focus, the key purpose for which he is writing, which is that the peace of God, the peace of Christ become a real, tangible thing that impacts our daily lives.
The Hebrew word for peace is ‘shalom’. It’s a deep, rich word that as we go along today we’ll hopefully gain a greater appreciation for.
Why was the idea of peace, internal and external, important to the early church? Didn’t they live before things got so stressful and complicated like it is today?
Nope. The early church was an outlaw movement. To know the situation of the people Paul wrote to helps to understand why he wrote it and why it can be applied on at least two different levels.
So the church is an outlaw movement, known as “The Way”.
It’s in the bad books of the government of the day because while everyone in the Roman empire was expected to pledge allegiance to the emperor and affirm that “Caesar is Lord”, actually worshipping Caesar as a god, the early Christians refused to do that.
There message was “Jesus is Lord!” They followed another king and proclaimed themselves to, like Jesus, belong to another Kingdom.
They were viewed as traitors to the state, and - this is weird - because they didn’t worship the visible carved statue pagan gods they were considered atheists. Since they worshipped God who, after Christ ascended, was not visible to the naked eye, the Christians were considered ‘atheists’.
Weird eh? We were the first ones referred to as atheists, and yet we worship the only true God. One of the stranger things in our history.
So because the early church was an outlaw movement, hunted down, fed to the lions literally for their refusal to turn their backs on Jesus, they were a movement under siege.
They were not, externally, at peace.
Daily pressures from just being Christians - you can imagine the strain families would have been under trying to keep their kids safe, struggling daily with pressure to renounce their faith just so they could stop being hunted like animals.
The daily experience of belonging to Jesus was an enormous challenge that is way outside of the experience of the western church at least.
But perhaps as we think about Paul’s audience, the ones he wrote to in this letter, we can understand why peace was such an important thing, why it IS such an important thing today for you and for me.
So to the Christians in the city of Colossae, Paul composes a lyric that points to the chorus of peace, the peace of Christ, and while doing that he unpacks for us the verse that point to the chorus.