Journalists embedded with combat troops made the Viet Nam conflict the first televised war. Network news brought the war into American living rooms every evening. It was an undeclared war that brought continuing protests on college campuses, at military induction centers, and government monuments for over a decade.
Televising this "conflict" fought on the other side of the world created a tug-a-war for the American psyche. The embedded journalists revealed the realities of the daily struggle of war, as thousands of young soldiers died in an undeclared war that divided a nation.
It was not a bright spot in American history, but it brought about a more honest view of combat and politics that lingers today.
When I was a young man lost in the turmoil of the late 60's, I was approached by two clean-cut college students witnessing for Jesus. I was morally and spiritually lost. I bought into the "turn on, tune in, drop out" philosophy of the day.
These well-intentioned students tried to entice me into the Christian faith with the promise, "You can be a Christian and still have a sports car!" I didn't want a sports car, I wanted the truth. I didn't buy the brand of Christianity they presented.
Thankfully, I came to Jesus after understanding the truth of God's Word and experiencing the wooing of God's Spirit. God spoke the truth to my heart in an honest way by His Spirit, while reading the Bible (Matt 7:13-14).
After choosing to follow Jesus, I learned the reality of what that involved on a daily basis.
I realized it was much more of a continuing struggle than some evangelists made it out to be saying, "Just come to Jesus, He's the answer to life's problems," and similar declarations.
What they said may be true in part, but they didn't disclose what the Christian life was like day-to-day.
No one's life turns on a dime without any consequences. If you win the lottery, you have to pay a lot of taxes. When you get a new job, you have to work. After the wedding, two single people need to learn how to live as one (Gen 2:24-25).
Commitment and conflicts
The Christian life, a personal trust in Jesus, is likened to marriage (2 Cor 11:2; Rev 21:2, 9). Marriage requires a continued commitment to navigate all the changes and phases of life in a relationship.
A commitment to follow Jesus is no different. Life is not static, but dynamic. Just as conflicts come when two people's lives merge in a marriage, Christian believers also experience conflict.
Our conflict as believers is not the merging of two lives, but the separation of two natures—the old and the new, as pointed out in last week's post. How do we navigate these challenges? Biblical truth needs to become life realities embedded into our daily living.
3 things to embed in our life
I see three things in Colossians 3:15-17 that enable us as believers to follow Jesus in a continuous commitment to Him. These three truths need to be embedded into daily life if you want to win the war between the old and new selves (Rom 7:21-25 NIV; Gal 5:17).
1- The peace of Christ
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Col 3:15 NIRV)
Here's where the battle is won first, in the deepest part of who we are—our inner spiritual nature. Our inner nature made new and alive by God's Spirit filling and dwelling in us.
God gives His peace to rule in our hearts in our everyday interaction with others (John 14:27; 16:33), especially those who also follow Jesus—His church body.
2- The Word of Christ
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Col 3:16 NIRV)
This is the battlefield where the conflict between our old and new natures is most obvious and intense. When our heart is ruled by God's peace, then our mind can better sort through and discern conflicting thoughts.
It's also why our minds need to be renewed by the truth of God (Rom 12:2) and in the image of our Creator (Col 3:10). We need the fresh water of God's Word washing through our thoughts on a regular basis, which is one of the purposes of reading the Bible daily.
3- Whatever you do
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:17 NIRV)
What we say and do reflects how we are doing with the conflict going on inside us each day. Some days are bound to be better than others and vice-versa.
It's not so much about controlling our mouth and behavior, but letting the new life we have in our relationship with Jesus shine through us to others.
One final thought
I see two things in these three verses. First, each exhortation addresses one of the three parts of our being—the heart (inner spiritual nature), the mind (thought life), and the body (our active presence).
Secondly, notice that each exhortation includes some form of thankfulness. Thankfulness in our heart, mind, and actions (word or deed) centered on and reflecting Jesus.
Assured by God's peace, His truth, and His presence with thankfulness in all that we are and do will empower and enable us to win the daily conflict we experience as we follow Jesus our Lord.
May you know God's peace, truth, and presence in all you say and do