Summary: To “change seats” when it comes to our relationship with the Lord requires us to give up trying to “fly” our own lives and allow Jesus to set our course.
Introduction: Today we are continuing our series of messages on the importance of love and unity in the Church. When we began several weeks ago we saw that the key to unity within the Body of Christ is love. That is why Paul said in Colossians 3:14—“Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.” The key truth that is guiding our study is:
Love and Unity go “hand-in-hand” without Love there will be no Unity.
I had originally planned on this being a set of sermons that we would finish in two or three weeks, but the Lord has really been speaking to me through these verses, and I hope that He is speaking to you as well. As I was studying before leaving for vacation I realized there are two more qualities that go along with Paul’s list of “unity” builders in verses 15 and 16, so we will look at those next week.
If you’ll remember, we used the illustration of the difference between sitting in “coach” and sitting in “first class” on an airline, and we have seen that Jesus doesn’t want us to settle for “coach” or “second-class” living, but that we can live “first class” spiritual lives because we have a “first class” Savior.
Today we I want to offer you another thought from the imagery of travel as are look at two more qualities from this list of unity builders that Paul gave to the Colossian believers—“IT’S TIME TO CHANGE SEATS!”
I saw a bumper sticker one time that read: “If Jesus is you co-pilot, change seats!” That is so true! Jesus doesn’t want to be our “co-pilot” He want to be our “Pilot.” If we haven’t turned over complete control of our lives to Him, we will never be able to experience the joy that He desires for us. Not only that, we will also never find that UNITY that we are looking for within the Body of Christ.
To “change seats” when it comes to our relationship with the Lord requires us to give up trying to “fly” our own lives and allow Jesus to set our course. The qualities we are going to look at today absolutely require us to “change seats” if we want them to become reality in our daily lives.
Before we get to our next two qualities let’s review quickly what we’ve studied so far:
LOVE: Give of Yourself like Jesus Gives
BE LIKE CHRIST
COMPASSION: Feel like Jesus Feels
KINDNESS: Treat Others like Jesus Treats Us
HUMILITY: Ourselves & Others as God Sees Us
GENTLENESS: Surrender to Christ so You can Serve Like Christ
PATIENCE: Act Like Christ so You won’t React to Life’s Problems
Text: Colossians 3:12-14
Christ-like Qualities that Can Bring Unity in the Church
The phrase “accepting one another” is translated “forebearing” in the KJV and “bearing with” in the NASB. The idea of “acceptance” is implied within this important quality. It is a key quality because it provides a connection between the last quality we looked at—PATIENCE—and the final quality in the list—FORGIVENESS. All three of these spiritual disciplines are very closely intertwined.
One author explained it this way: To “bear with” means putting up with the “extra grace required” crowd. This is only possible for those who are clothed with patience.
The New Testament Greek scholar A.T. Robinson says that this term literally means, “holding yourselves back from one another.” John MacArthur explains it this way: Bearing with one another means “to endure, to hold out in spite of persecution, threats, injury, indifference, or complaints and not retaliate.”
This was a quality that was characterized by Paul, who told the Corinthians, “when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure” (1 Cor. 4:12). The word endure is the same word used in our text for accepting or bearing with one another.
Our key phrase for ACCEPTANCE is:
Put Up with others just like Jesus Puts Up Us
When it comes to relationships, Jesus’ own words provide a challenge for each of us. When Jesus came down off the mountain after He was transfigured before Peter, James and John, He found His other disciples arguing. When He questioned them He found out that a man had brought a demon-possessed boy to them but they hadn’t been able to cast the demon out. Listen to Jesus’ words:
“You unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me.” Mark 9:19
Have you ever thought about how much Jesus had to “put up” with while He was here on earth? How about how much and who He has to “put up” with still today? But the reality is—He does! He puts up with people just like you and me, and because He does He asks us to do the same.