We are studying some areas where God has grown us as a church body over the past few years. Last week, we looked at our identity and how we must view each other first as children of God and not any other label. There will be harmony in the church when we maintain unity.

Arguments over preferences, whether or not they are significant, often get heated. The New Testament records several examples when this happened in the church (1 Corinthians 1, Ephesians 2, Philemon). Our most important reality and primary identity is in Jesus Christ. Understanding Him is the only remedy.

Colossians 2 highlights that Jesus is what all Christians have in common. We all have received Christ (verse 6), were buried with Christ (verse 20), and were raised with Christ (verse 12). Paul's description of his own identity in Colossians 1:24-28 begins and ends with Christ. We have various backgrounds in the church, but we are all in Christ. We share the same Savior, baptism, adoption, message, and mission. Other causes may be worth investing in, but never to the expense of the Great Commission.

The Christian message and lifestyle are always counter to the culture of the world (Colossians 2:6-8). The world writes its own definition of "love," while we know the reality that God is love so God defines love. Even the culture of religion may appear wise, but it causes disharmony (Colossians 2:20-23).

Colossians 3:12-17

The doctrinal portion of the book of Colossians tells us that Christ is enough. The practical part applies Christ's sufficiency to many different areas of life: personal (Colossians 3:1-11), corporate (3:12-17), domestic (3:18-21), vocational (3:22-4:1), and evangelistic (4:2-6).

This section is probably set in a context of corporate worship, since it uses 3 Old-Testament labels for God's people. "Chosen" reminds us that there was a divine search for those hiding from God. "Holy" is something we are declared and enabled to be by grace. "Beloved" means we are the object of God's love (1 John 4). The Christian identity is also described in Colossians 1:21-23, 1 Peter 2:9, and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4.

Colossians 3 gives spiritual instruction to protect unity in the body of Christ. Colossians 3:10-11 describes our past and present. Colossians 2:8-9 describes Christ's fullness, which is the foundation of our unity and fellowship. Nothing and no one external can hinder unity if God's people are Spirit-governed, Word-saturated, and functioning biblically.

"Love is not a victim of our emotions but subject to our wills."

Verse 14 tells us to "put on love," which is further defined by verses 12-13. Love includes compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Humility is thinking nothing of yourself but all of Christ. Patience bears with others and endures difficulty together. Forgiveness is as necessary to the human soul as food is to the body. It realizes that "God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." A lack of forgiveness indicates that I have "diminished my sin against God while elevating others' sin against me."

No loyalty, whether to an organization or a person or a cause, should take precedence over our Savior. The peace that He provides serves as an umpire ruling over our hearts individually and collectively. To "dwell" means to reside as in a home or house. The Word of God is our sustenance, tutor, and the domestic stabilizer of the unity of the body of Christ.