“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15
What enables us to have such uncommon peace as Christians? Probably the key word is “commonality,” for we share so many essential things in common. But three of these items are unquestionably at the very top of the list of essentials. One is our relationship with God and the nature of that relationship. All of us were baptized into Christ only after the decision to truly make Jesus the Lord of our lives. It was not a selfish decision to simply get saved; it was a selfless decision to surrender our lives in representing him to our fellow man. Therefore, we are intent on imitating him and doing what pleases him. He is, and forever must remain, our top priority of life.
A second essential that ensures peace and unity is based on that decision to make Jesus the Lord of our lives. This decision means that everyone will be discipled, which ensures in turn that a lack of peace simply will not be tolerated. If we have a problem with another disciple, we go to them or they come to us for a resolution. Actually, we should be going to them as they are coming to us, for in Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus says that we should go to the other person if we have offended them, and in Matthew 18:15-16 he says that we should pursue reconciliation if we are the one offended. Hence, we have God’s double indemnity spiritual life insurance policy which guarantees the dividend of our uncommon peace.
The third essential is that disciples also have the same basic mission-—to seek and save the lost. When we are in the battle together, we are not very likely to attack one another. Persecution from a common enemy as we seek to carry out our mission will actually unify us even more if we view and handle it biblically. An all-out commitment to the mission and to discipling is what separates us from mere church goers. The first gives us our purpose in life and the second, the means by which it can be accomplished. If we stay committed to the mission and to discipling, our unity will stay strong. Obviously, if we begin to waver on either, unity will be threatened. We cannot afford to condone any deviation from the unity for which Jesus prayed—and died.
Biblically, the “daily diet” of the healthy disciple consists of the essentials above. We are to spend time in the Word daily (Acts 17:11) and in prayer (Luke 11:1-4), both of which are elements in our relationship with God. We are to share our faith daily (Acts 17:17) and be open with our lives daily with one another (Hebrews 3:12). Therefore, the first warning sign of approaching disunity comes when we as individuals do not have our relationship with God as our top priority. When either the quantity or quality of time with him is compromised, sin will enter and ultimately permeate our spiritual lives.
A second warning sign appears when there is a lack of commitment to and involvement in the mission of evangelism. Paul’s short letter to Philemon makes this remarkable statement: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 1:6). While the context of this verse is likely referring most directly to the sharing of faith and our lives with other Christians, all sharing of our faith builds our faith. Appreciation for our life in Christ grows with our sharing of it. Evangelism is not just to save the souls of the lost; it is designed to keep our own souls saved.
When we are studying the Bible with others, we are reminded of why we became disciples in the first place, our hearts and convictions are strengthened incredibly. We remain excited and thankful about the amazing life that God has given us in Christ. Therefore, if evangelism has become humdrum to us, a burden and not a blessing, a duty and not a desire, we are slipping into the sins described in Revelation 2 and 3: loss of our first love and lukewarmness. If you are not in the mission heart and soul right now, Satan is into his mission with you, heart and soul. Wake up and repent.
A third warning sign is more subtle and deceptive than the other two. It of course ties in to the discipling process. Are we being discipled? Are we consistently seeking advice? Are we being open with what is in our heart of hearts? Do we want to be open with everything? The honest answers to those questions will go a long way in evaluating where we are spiritually. Satan is a master at encouraging us to be partially open, but not to really share our deepest doubts, sins and fears. For God to use us powerfully, we must learn to trust and stay truly open to discipling and God’s Word.
Let us heed the words of Paul, “I appeal to you brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10). A clear focus on the essentials of our faith will produce in us an uncommon peace and a powerful people united in faith.