“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body” Colossians 3:15
We naturally think of a ruler as someone who tells other people what to do. The ruler has the power. And in a fallen and broken world that power is often abused, leading to a negative and resistant attitude toward rulers.
What are we to think, then, when the Bible tells us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts? New Testament scholars tell us that the word we translate as “rule” means something like “settle,” as an arbiter does(1). So, the peace of Christ is an arbiter that settles the issues in our hearts, and in the body of Christ.
The peace of Christ is the peace in which we stand before God. Jesus Christ accomplished our peace with God. He reconciled us to God by paying the penalty for our sins and removing guilt from us. He gave us right standing with God. In Christ, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1).
Now, the accomplished peace we have with God through Christ rules in our hearts. Christ’s peace settles the issues within us and among us. When we are unsettled about our relationship with God, we look to the peace Christ has accomplished for us to assure our heart before God. When we deal with self-condemnation, we let the peace of Christ settle that issue. When we face the temptation to fight with others, we remember Christ, who is our peace, and let him settle the issues between us.
The peace that Christ accomplished for us with God is the new arbiter within us. We will not always or automatically feel peaceful within, or have smooth relationships with others. We will have to think through and work out how Christ’s peace settles the issues of the heart and the church. But Christ’s peace is the way these things are settled. We must start here.
This weekend, prayerfully read Colossians 3 and think through how the peace of Christ can rule in you. I look forward to worshipping Christ with you Sunday.
(1) F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), 156-157.