I was taught not to major on minors or build a theological system on a single passage of Scripture. That’s good advice, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t major points of truth in what appear to us to be insignificant parts in the Bible.
I am reminded of this when I read the greetings in the New Testament letters. There are a few exceptions (Timothy, Titus, Philemon), but for the most part these letters are written to people, not just one person. More specifically, these letters were written to believing people, the church. The plural language gives us a corporate and congregational context for the Bible. By reading that these letters were written to the church, our thinking shifts from “me” to “we.”
In Colossians 1:2, the Apostle Paul addressed his letter to the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ (a reference to a congregation). Immediately we are encouraged to think “we” and not just “me.” This makes a big difference when we get to the application section of his letter. With this shift in our thinking we realize that we can’t even apply what Paul is saying without other people. Everything we are told to do is in relation to others, and most of it is in relation to the church.
The “me” is important. The Bible does address us as individuals. You and I are personally called to repent and believe in Jesus, and to follow him as Lord. But our problem is not that we forget about and neglect ourselves; it is that we often fail to see that being a Christian means belonging to others. We often forget about and neglect the church. It’s the “we” that we need to recover.
What difference would it make to think “we” and not just “me?”
We would want to hear Christ’s word together. Colossians 3:16 says to let the word of Christ dwell in us. In the church, as the congregation meets, the word of Christ is read, taught, discussed, and obeyed. So, along with reading our Bible alone each day, we come to church bringing Christ’s word with us and expecting it to dwell among us.
We would want our church to reflect the life of Christ together. Colossians 2:6 says that as we have received Christ, so we are to walk in him. To think “we” means that we pray for our church — for the people in our congregation — to walk with Christ. We want the corporate characteristic of Grace Community Church to be that we reflect the life of Christ among us.
We would see our church as a witness to the greatness of Christ. Colossians 4:5 tells us to walk in wisdom toward outsiders. Along with trying to live our individual lives as witnesses to God’s grace at home, school, and work, we also pray that the quality of our congregational life will communicate to our city that Jesus Christ is worthy of worship and able to save sinners like us.
A small shift in thinking and language from “me” to “we” can make a big difference in the way we understand the Bible and live in the church. This Sunday at Grace, I plan to begin a sermon series on Colossians. I will be very intentional about approaching this letter in the Bible from the plural perspective. I pray that as we enter a new year, our love for Christ and the church will grow. Will you join me in this prayer?
Take some time this weekend to read the short book of Colossians, from the “we” perspective.