The process of selecting a leader for our country surrounds us. Over the next several months candidates will bombard us with messages about their character and competence, and the lack of same in their opponents. Their goal is to become the supreme leader of our country, to exercise control and influence, presumably for the good of the people.
In our hearts, a similar campaign emerges. Priorities and goals jockey for position. Some are obvious: jobs, marriages, families, houses and cars. Others go unnoticed unless one has been trained, as Paul is training his readers in the third chapter of the book of Colossians. He has laid a foundation, reminding us that we who follow Christ are to take off the old self and its practices, and are to set our minds on spiritual things, not the things of this world. We are to get rid of the things of the old self, many of them attitudes and resulting emotional states: anger, malice, slander, sexual immorality, impurity, lust evil desires and greed. In saying that we should get rid of “all things as these” that Paul is giving these as examples, and not an exhaustive list. The point is there are many attitudes that compete for the leadership of our hearts. Most of them are expressions of the old selfish self.
Having given so many examples of these competing priorities and motivations, Paul now crowns his persuasion with these words:
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Colossians 3:15
There is a throne in your heart and someone reigns there. The natural by default ruler is the old self with its selfish motivations (greed, lust, malice, impurity, etc.) Paul assures us there is a better way and a better Ruler. If we let Christ rule there, peace results and we are able to wear the qualities of Christ on our sleeves, so to speak. Paul has given us examples of these qualities in verses 12-14: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, perseverance, forgiveness, all bound together with agape love.
At any given moment we are letting one or the other of these ways of being rule in our hearts. As I meditated on this verse over the course of weeks and months, I asked myself: What if I REALLY believed this? What if, rather than passing over the verse and calling it a beautiful thought, I actually let the peace of Christ rule in my heart? As trying circumstances presented themselves, I had opportunity to allow the old self (malice, anger) to rule in my heart. The other option became increasingly clear as the Holy Spirit asked me:
“What if the peace of Christ ruled in THIS situation? What would be different in your thoughts, motivations and actions? How would these change the way you feel and act right now?”
This single verse has been life changing. It has freed me from the bondage of an old way of life that I had allowed to share sovereignty (rule) in my heart. By first imagining what the rule of the peace of Christ would look like in my life on any given day, longing for it, seeking and cooperating with it, I have been able to experience and share the peace of Christ more consistently than ever before.
There is a throne in your heart. There is room for only one there. Today, who will it be?