Text:         Colossians 3:12-16

By:            Bro. Chris Afekolu

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The Scriptures uses the house as a means of portraying the function and structure of the church.

And be yourselves also like living stones that are being built up into a spiritual house, to become a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5 WNT)

A house is usually made up of various components such as blocks, granite, sand, steel rods, and wood. However, one thing more is needed if all these components are to perform their role as building components: They must be properly joined together. Blocks need to be joined together with cement. If you were to pile blocks loosely one on top of another, without cement, all you need is a little push to topple the pile. Likewise, steel rods or girders have to be properly welded together and set-in concrete. Only then are they able to perform their role of providing strong support in columns and beams.

Wooden planks have to be nailed together to perform their role. Without being nailed they would move out of place. Now, if you tried to build a house without doing any cementing, concreting, welding or nailing, you would probably have a weak structure that can easily be blow down with less effort. The issue of collapsed building is no new in our country.

Now, the same thing will happen to the church which is a spiritual house. It consists of many individual components that are called members. If these components are merely placed together without being properly bonded together, it will not take too much effort by the Devil or any stormy wind to blow the entire house down. I used the word “stronger bonding”, meaning this is existing but we need to improve on this in 2021. It is only when the components of God’s house are bonded well together, that the house will be able to stand firm and fulfill its purpose as a spiritual house for a long time.

This message focuses on this particular aspect of building the spiritual house ‘ the bond that binds us to one another within the church. Many opportunities exist within the congregation for us to meet and fellowship with one another. Examples are our house fellowship, various programs line-up by the youths (I think they doing great in this area), the Youth and sisters lectureship, sisters collective act of benevolence, etc. These bonds become channels of love and care for one another.

This is why Leadership will always welcome ideas, plans and organization of events that will provide more opportunities for fellowship. We pray the covid-19 will go to the abyss shortly! However, as helpful as such events are to build bonds among ourselves, they will not work at all if one very basic condition is not in place. And this basic condition is the willingness of all of us to build a closely-knit church.

There must be a general consensus, a commitment and a common interest in all members of the church to build strong bonds with one another. It has to become a felt need for us. If this is lacking, then all the activities and programs designed to promote closer fellowship in the church will avail very little. Attendance will always be low. All kinds of excuses will be given for not participating in them.

And so the key question is: How can we all develop the willingness and desire to become a closely knit church?

Our strongest motivation to action as children of God always comes from God Himself. If we are thoroughly convinced that God wants us to be closely knit, and that this is not an option but really a command from Him that we must obey, then we will certainly make a concerted effort to become a closely-knit church. This is what we will see now as we look at our text in Colossians 3:12-16.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:12-16 NKJV)

  • Here, the first thing that the Lord wants us to do is to: Change Our Perception of the Church (v.12)

We must regard our church as being very specially cherished by God. We see this in v.12: ‘Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved’. Here we notice that believers are described with three terms:

  • The first is the term: ‘elect of God’ – this means that we are specially chosen and given the special privilege of being a part of the church. {I hear some say their church! But every individual is part of the church.}
  • The second term used to describe us is the word, ‘holy’ – in this context it means ‘set apart to God or by God.’
  • And the third term is ‘beloved’ – this term denotes the special favour that God has shown to us.

It is an Honour to Be Part of the Church. When all these three terms are put together they speak to us of how great and wonderful it is for us to be part of this entity that is called the church of God. It is no small thing.

It is actually a great privilege and honour, and therefore we must now live within this church in a manner that befits such an honour. And what is this manner of life? Verse 12 tells us that life as God’s elect, holy and beloved, must be characterized by compassion, by kindness, by humbleness of mind, by meekness and by longsuffering.

We Have Responsibilities from Being Part of the Church. We notice that all of these five virtues have something to do with the way we relate to one another. They tell us about the responsibilities we now have as a result of being in into the body of Christ.

Firstly, we should always be compassionate toward on another especially when there are brethren who are suffering or distressed, and bearing burdens that are too heavy for them to bear alone. In Galatians 6:2 we are told to bear one another’s burdens. But sometimes excuses are made for not doing this. Someone might say, ” I have enough burdens of my own to bear” Someone else might say, ‘I would rather not be nosy to pry or meddle in the affairs of others.- “some will say Na my own I dey do”’; such attitude does not depict Christian love and should be discouraged. Let learn from Apostle Paul.

Continuing in v.12, we see that besides being compassionate we should also be kind to one another. A thoughtful act of kindness can go a long way to develop closer fellowship. When I mentioned kindness, what readily comes to mind for some is monetary gain or material gain. It goes beyond that. Kindness may be remembering a person’s birthday, marriage anniversary, or keeping in touch with someone who has gone to the field for work or those in school for study. A little chats out to a brother or sister (not those within your friendship level), just a phone call – checking how brother or sister is doing. All these build stronger fellowship!

Some of us are not keen on being kind to others because of the fear that we may be misunderstood or deeply hurt by them. Then you may feel tempted to withdraw from others and keep yourself at a safe distance from others. But if you do this, how can you obey the command in v.12 to put on kindness? Therefore, to be kind, you must overcome such fears and come out of your shell. The majority of Christians will not let you down if you take the initiative to reach out to them with love and kindness.

The next virtue we need according to v.12 is humility of mind. A humble person always puts others before himself. (Philippians 2:3 ‘but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.’) Humility of mind is not only about how a person sees himself. It directs us to look at others differently. It is willing to trust others. Pride often prevents individuals from trusting other people. A proud person would rather trust in himself. We must therefore be willing to trust one another. A close-knit fellowship is built on trust. When we trust one another, we can share our feelings and opinions with one another without any fear that we would be judged or taken advantage of.

We should be able to be transparent and open with fellow believers, and not have to be on guard all the time, lest something we say should be used against us. If we are not able to trust one another with our love, then something must be terribly wrong with us. All of us who are truly in Christ should be able to trust one another and have no fear at all that we will be hurt or betrayed. So let us develop this humble virtue of openness and trust in our interaction. It can go a long way to build a stronger and closer bond among members of the church.

And v.12 also, says that we must be meek or gentle. You see, in any church there are bound to be differences. God did not make us all exactly alike. Each member has his or her own unique personality. Some tend to be rather strong and dominating. Others tend to be quiet and indifferent. And yet others tend to very sensitive, they are very nervous and very easily upset. This variety of personalities makes the fellowship interesting but it can also present problems in fellowship. People may find it hard to get along together.  But meekness is the virtue that can help us to get along well with any kind of person.

We should learn how to be gentle and accommodating with others. And also learn to be longsuffering or patient with others. Put up with one another’s peculiarities and be patient. Remember that we all have our own personal faults and failings. Sometimes we disappoint one another and even disagree with one another. And this may cause some friction. Nothing disrupts fellowship more than a quarrel between members.

  • But how do we prevent quarrels from disrupting the fellowship?

Obey God’s Commands Regarding One Another (v.13)

The answer is found in verse 13: by ‘Forbearing one another and forgiving one another’ we cannot be closely knit if we fail to do this. And in v.13 we see that we can forgive when we are reminded of the fact that Christ has forgiven us for so much greater faults and failings than what others have done to us.

Exercise Brotherly Love (v.14)

The next verse tells us more about the bond that we should develop: v.14 ‘And above all things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.’ There are really many places in the Bible where we are told to exercise such brotherly love. In John 15:12 Jesus said, ‘This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.’ In John 13:34-35, He emphasizes this by saying, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 WEB)

Our Lord has made love for one another the distinguishing feature or hallmark of all true Christians. Why did Christ not choose some other virtue to be the distinguishing feature of His disciples? Why not humility? Or sober-mindedness? Or peace? Or zeal? There must be something special and significant about love. John says the same thing in his first epistle. In 3:14 he says ‘We know that we have passed from death unto life (why?) because we love the brethren’.

In 1 John 4:12 he says,

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12 KJV).

The reason why love is the distinguishing feature of a true disciple or true Christian is that it is the most divine of all virtues. 1 John 4:7,8 ‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.’ This divine virtue called love must therefore be evident in our lives if we are truly born of God.

In v.14 of our text love is called the ‘bond of perfectness.’ This means that it is the connective tissue or the glue that binds us together in the fellowship in perfect harmony. At the beginning of this message I used the analogy of building a house.

I said that members in God’s house that are not bonded together would be like placing blocks, steel rods and pieces of wood together without cementing, welding and nailing them. Love is the bond of perfectness that cements us, welds us and nails us together to build the spiritual house of God. And as a result of these bonds we all thrive and grow together as a spiritual house of God! We need to work more on this bond of perfectness in our assembly this year.

Let’s use an illustration from nature to help us to understand this message a little better. If you were to go into a forest and look at the trees, you would get the impression that each tree is an individual, separate entity. But what you can’t see is that beneath the ground, the trees are actually connected together through their intertwined roots. And trees can actually convey water and nutrients to one another through their roots! This is made possible by the Lord’s wonderful provision of a unique fungus, called mycorrhiza.

This special fungus grows on the roots of trees and forms a network which links the roots of one tree with the roots of others. These links become little channels through which nutrients and water may pass from one tree to another. A whole forest of trees is therefore linked together like a community. If one tree has access to water and another tree has access to nutrients, and a third tree has access to sunlight, the trees can actually share these things with one another.

Love is just like that wonderful fungus, linking us by an invisible bond, as a closely-knit church. Through the bond of love, we share the blessings God has given to each of us. If someone is in need, that bond of love will supply to his need. If someone has abundance, that bond of love will bring the benefits to all the rest. In this mutual process of sharing through the bond of love, we can all bear one another’s burdens, and strengthen one another.

The real church life as a spiritual house of God was demonstrated Acts 2:44-47! A closely-knit group of believers who shared not only their time of worship together, but even their time outside of worship – going to members’ homes and enjoying meals and activities together.

  • Can we seek to emulate this in our church? Yes, if only we will change our attitude and perception.

Accomplish Common Objectives as One Body (vv.15,16)

Verse 15 gives us a good reason for doing this – because we are called in one body. This speaks of the oneness or unity that we should have in Christ. Brethren should not be working in disarray! As one body in Christ we should now work together towards accomplishing common tasks and objectives. E.g. in v.16 – ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom’. This means that the whole body is to make itself a rich treasury of God’s Word.

To let the word of Christ dwell in us means to let it become like a rich treasure stored up in our midst. We are to build up the biblical knowledge of each and every member in our church so that we will collectively build a rich treasury of God’s Word. According to the same verse everyone can and should play a part in accomplishing this task ‘teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.’ All of us who are in Christ are on the road of learning and we should help one another to learn God’s Word.

Thus we have seen from God’s Word that we will build a closely-knit church

  • As we change our perception of the church
  • As we obey the Lord’s commands regarding one another
  • As we exercise brotherly love
  • And as we seek to accomplish our common objectives and tasks as one body.
  • All these are essentials for building a closely-knit church. A closely-knit church will provide an environment conducive for spiritual growth, and for taking care of the needs of all members. And this is what we must now be willing to do according to God’s Word.
  • Let us therefore make fellowship time with other members a priority from now on. Get to know other members of the Church. Make it a point to talk with someone you don’t know in church this morning and keep on doing it every week. If everyone is willing to do this, we will see the bond of perfectness growing in our midst.

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