Lesson Four • Gather
Pastor Noble Baird
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
Gathering by definition (according to Google) is “an assembly or meeting, especially a social or festive one or one held for a specific purpose.” Gatherings have taken many different forms and agendas for many different people. For some, there are family gatherings that happen yearly or on holidays. For others, these gatherings can be with school friends or coworkers. Yet, one of the most important gatherings that we can prioritize in our lives is that of gathering together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. As we continue in this letter, Paul writes about the radical life change of the Gospel. Specifically, he shares how we have a holistic lifestyle and mindset change because of Christ’s finishing work on the cross and His resurrection for our sins.
- What are some gatherings that are a tradition for you or your family to attend?
- What does the phrase “gather with the saints” mean to you?
In Colossians 3:1-3, we read, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul begins with an “if then” statement that helps to set apart to whom these gathering of the saints pertains. Simply, it is those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Yet, it does not end there. While it is truly confessing with our mouths and believing in our hearts that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9), there must be a radical holistic change that permeates every part of us. So, Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” This is such an important mindset for us to desire and strive for as followers of Christ. However, what does that mean and then practically look like? First, Paul lays out the things that are on earth that we must not only walk away from but put to death. He continues in Colossians 3:5-11, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”
- What have you found in Christ that you were never able to find in the things of this world?
- Is there anything in Paul’s list in Colossians 3:5-11 that you need to work on in your life?
I believe that Paul purposely says to put these to “death” for a reason. Death is a very heavy word with much finality behind it. As followers of Christ, while we know death is real (Romans 6:23), death is only the beginning of life eternal with Christ our Savior! In this context, Paul uses death in regard to our sinful, worldly nature and our life before Christ. It is important to understand that if we truly accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, there must and will be a true change in our life. Since Paul put everyone in a great mood with our list of shortcomings and failures, he quickly follows us with this passage of encouragement of what the heavenly things above truly are. Colossians 3:12-17 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
- Note the words “thankful” and “thankfulness” in this passage. When was the last time you thanked the Lord?
One thing I admire about Paul is his desire and direction for action. He began in verse 5 saying, “Put to death,” and then he begins verse 12 with, “Put on then.” The things above that Paul referenced earlier in this passage, he now gives a practical list for us to desire and strive for: holiness, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, love, and forgiveness. The list could continue on and on. At the end of the day, it is a list of everything that not only Christ taught, but that He lived out. As followers of Christ, we have been called to live it out, to focus on the things above, and to allow the Spirit of God to penetrate who we are so that we become more like Him. That is what the sanctification process is all about. It is becoming more and more like Christ daily.
- Are you a team player or do you like to do things solo?
However, there is the second half of this passage that is so essential to our lives as believers. Beginning in verse 15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We have been called to gather together as one body. When we accept Christ and enter into this new life, we are quite literally joining His team as we are a part of His family forever. Therefore, Paul lists the practices that we as a team are called to so that we can focus on the things above and not be distracted or overcome by the things of this world. So, what are these practices that we as the body have been called to? We have been called to gather together to read and hear from God’s Word, to encourage and advise one another, to worship the Lord in congregational singing and praise, and to remind each other of thankfulness for the Lord’s goodness in all things.
- Why do you go to church?
- Is gathering a priority for you and your family or an inconvenience?
I cannot tell you the number of times I have sat down with friends and people at church who have come to me saying that they are struggling with being at church. Every time I ask them why. I genuinely want to know their point of concern that is so great that it has brought them to the place of desiring to leave and go somewhere else. In the majority of cases, I hear the answer that either the messages that are being preached are not directed toward them, the music is not their “style,” or the environment is not to their liking. Now, I will say there are times and situations of true concern and those people have left on good terms or we were able to discuss and understand the issue at hand. However, to those who felt like the church was not supplementing their spiritual, emotional, or theological needs; I always pose the question, “Are you at church to serve or be served?”
- Do you go to church to serve or be served?
The reality is that every message, every song, and every change will never be to our desires and growth one hundred percent of the time. Yet, if we heed the words of Paul and understand the design Christ set forth for gathering as the body, we will find peace, joy, growth, and excitement. Gathering is essential. The writer of Hebrews calls believers to gather together and not neglect this important time. So, as you continue this week, whatever day it may be or wherever you may attend church, I hope that you make it a priority to gather. I hope it is a weekly priority for you to be physically present with the body of Christ, worshiping, sharing in His Word, encouraging one another, and giving thanks for all He has done and continues to do for us!
- What can you do this week to serve together as the body of Christ?