Some Thoughts on Colossians: Community and the Word of Christ

In this passage Paul tells us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love. At this point you should ask yourself what if we as individuals did this? Then ask yourself what if we as a community put on these virtues and lived in such a way that displayed these things? How attractive would we be to non-Christians? How much would we help one another grow? Paul seems to think that the community would take leaps and bounds in its walk with Jesus if it did these things….

In 3:13-16 Paul tells us how to live in community. These are the kinds of things that a Christian community will do. Then he tells us how we are to get it done. We are to get it done by putting on these virtues. We are to clothe ourselves with these things. We are to put on  compassion, kindness, humility, etc. So how about we do this? How about we try really hard to put these things on? Even if these items of clothing don’t necessarily “fit” lets force them onto ourselves…. Does that sound like a good idea? Of course not! Because if those things are not a part of who you are, if they aren’t a part of your identity, it won’t work! So how is it that we are supposed to put on these things? Paul says that we put these things on as God’s chosen people “holy and dearly loved.” Its only when you find your identity in Christ that you can do these things. When you realize how much God loves you and how holy you are in Christ, then you will walk these things out because our doing flows from our being.

When reading this pass age you could focus on any of the seven things that Paul says that we are to do, but I want to focus on one: Teach and admonish one another with the word of Christ. Think about this for a second… Notice that:

Out of our identity as God’s sons and daughters words of encouragement will flow out to our brothers and sisters.

This verse (3:16) is about encouraging one another with the word of Christ. Naturally the question is “so what is the word of Christ?” The Word of Christ could mean the Word from Christ or Word about Christ. Option 1: Word of Christ = literally his words his teachings. So Paul is saying Encourage one another to stay faithful to his teaching. Option 2: Word about Christ = The gospel stories: Matthew Mark Luke John. These are the words about Christ. Finally Option 3: Word about Christ = The truths of what Christ has done for us/The Gospel. Paul is telling the Colossians to speak all of these things over one another! Speak Christ’s teachings to one another, speak the stories of Jesus over one another, speak the gospel over one another!

As this action becomes a part of our everyday lives in community we will become more and more attractive to the lost. Imagine the possibilities! Consider the following scenario: a non-Christian walks into a small group and is blown away by the fact that people are affirming one’s value and worth in Christ, and showing grace and forgiveness towards one another because of the gospel. I have seen that happen first hand… and whats the result? The non-believer comes back, because this community is so different than the communities they have been a part of in the past. Do we want to be a communities like that? I know I do. And I know that Christ himself wants that for us even more.

This week consider the following things:

  1. Are you as an individual putting on these virtues?
  2. Are you grounding yourself in the word of Christ (i.e. his teachings, the stories of his life, the gospel?)
  3. Who can you speak the word of Christ over this week?

Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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