And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15
If you're not familiar with this verse you may not realize that the word, "rule", has the sense of arbitrate (an arbitrator is "Someone chosen to judge and decide a disputed issue"). I was taught that this verse shows me how to make decisions. Depending on the technicality of the "spiritual leader" (whoever it is) some have been challenged to ask the Spirit to make decisions for them even down to which sock to put on first. That may SOUND spiritual, but it's nothing but bondage. Now most of my day, I make decisions without thinking, but sometimes, I am caught in indecision. So, if I am a "grace" kinda person I will reject the obvious bondage that has trapped some, and apply this principle to those places where I can't decide. Sounds pretty reasonable, huh?
So ... what am I looking for when I am waiting for this "peace" to make (or help make) my decision for me? Is it the same thing the world teaches about love, "You'll know it when it happens"? Is it when I feel 100% certain? What if I have any reservations ... am I to be left in indecision? You've been there, haven't you? How many times have you just gone with your "gut" only to regret it later (or maybe just question it)? What if "the peace of Christ" has nothing (zip, nada, zilch) to do with feelings? The truth is that whether you use this principle to tell you which sock to put on first or whether you reserve it only for major decisions you are giving into bondage. Yep, you heard me right. But I have some good news for you ... and it is better than you can imagine. :)
I have no problem with the concept of "arbitrate" in the verse; no, it has to do with what Paul meant by "THE PEACE OF CHRIST" that I question. It is NOT elusive. It is NOT vague. It is NOT something hidden. It is NOT something you feel. It is NOT something that God will give you if you ask. It is NOT something that is added on to what you already have in Christ. The answer is simple ... it is right under your nose ... and you ALREADY know it. You just don't realize that you know it, and that is how someone can pull you off of the confidence of what you already have.
What was Paul telling these believers from Colosse (Colossians lived in Colosse, duh! :)? Aside from culture, location and modern conveniences these people were no different than you and I. And they were being hit with the same things. The list below is all from Colossians 2.
They were being pressured to:
* hold to rituals that were "shadows" of Christ.
* live according to the same kind of principles by which the world lives.
* look at each other by what they were in this world.
* achieve a "humble" attitude.
* consider the messengers as being head of the body. (angels = messengers; look it up)
* take a stand on personal visions.
* gain an appearance of godliness.
All of this pressure was being put upon them by some people who desired to pull their confidence off of Christ, Himself, as being their everything. What was being offered to them had NO VALUE in their struggle with "fleshly indulgences". Why don't you stop, right now, and read, at least, the first two chapters of Colossians? It is a potent detailing of Christ and of what He has accomplished through His death and resurrection.
So, how does this relate to "the peace of Christ"? It should be obvious, but after so many years of personal experience in the realm of confusion, believe me, I understand if it doesn't seem too obvious. Verse 15 is found smack dab in the middle of Paul's discussion about personal relationships. In other words, it has to do with "What does the reality of Christ have to do with how we are to get along with one another?" Are you following me here? I'm not making this up: go ahead and read Colossians 3:12-17 and notice that it all fits together in this context.
Here is what the verse says: The only basis upon which we have "unity" with one another is in what Christ has done when He removed the barriers between us, so ... LET THIS PEACE THAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED BY CHRIST BE WHAT SETTLES YOUR DISPUTES WITH EACH OTHER, FOR THIS IS WHAT YOU WERE CALLED TO.
(continued ... as part of the Shoveletter series, "The Will of God")