This is an article by Fred Barthel reprinted from a 2008 eNewsletter. It’s an oldie but certainly a goodie to remember during this holiday.
It’s a bit of a tradition to include Colossians 3:15 in the eNews that comes out closest to Thanksgiving: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” The apostle Paul makes a clear and intimate connection between peace and thankfulness here. Have you ever meditated on this connection? Do peace and gratitude go together in your mind?
Paul uses an interesting word here (the only time it is used in the New Testament) when he exhorts us to let the peace of Christ “rule” in our hearts. The original sense of the word “rule” was that of the role of an umpire. In sports, an umpire is the administrator of the game, making sure rules are not broken and order is maintained, and making key decisions as to what happened on a certain play. In the same way, the peace of Christ is to be the administrator of our lives. It will govern the decisions we make. It will keep us from “breaking rules.” It will maintain order in our churches. And when any situation is in question, the peace of Christ will make the final call. So a peacemaker is one whose heart is truly “umpired” by peace–not just any peace, but the peace of Christ.
After emphasizing why the peace of Christ is to reign in our hearts (because we are members of one body who are called to peace), Paul then adds, “And be thankful.” The idea of being thankful is much more than an afterthought–it is intimately connected with the peace he just discussed. This peace of Christ is a grand and glorious gift from God, and we are to be thankful for it. We should consider it as precious to us. By recognizing its value and being openly grateful for it, we have even more motivation to both make and keep peace. A thankful church is not likely to be a conflicted church. Yes, thankful people demonstrate the reconciling peace of Christ ruling in their hearts.
So among all the other things you give thanks for as you gather this Thanksgiving–the blessings of the past year and God’s faithfulness to you–we hope that you pause to give thanks for the peace of Christ. And may it rule in your hearts throughout this coming holiday season.