Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life Together IV

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16a)

Although it is right and good to hold in high esteem the importance and efficacy of the Word preached, we ought nonetheless to remember the importance of ministering God’s Word to one another daily simply by speaking it to one another. To do this aright, we need to understand and apply the three things commanded by Paul in his letter to the Christians in Colosse.

Firstly, we need to be personally taking in the Word of God until it can be truly said that it “dwells in us richly.” In other words, to the extent that scripture colors the way that we look at everything, directing the way that we interact with others and even giving shape to our affections and desires. And this is only accomplished by means of a steady diet of hearing the Word read, sung and preached in the great assembly, and personal Bible reading, meditation and memorization.

Secondly, Paul reminds us the Word of God treasured up in our souls in not for our benefit alone. It is to be shared with the brethren in ways ranging from encouragement to reproof and everything in between.

And lastly Paul insists that we minister the Word of God to one another “in all wisdom.” To be sure “all of Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, etc.” But to minister the Word wisely we must know, not only the content of the Bible, but the present needs of our brother or sister; particularly the unique way they need to hear the Gospel applied to their present circumstances. And the only way to do this is to live in the sort of tight-knit, knowing-and-being-known, serving-and-being-served, loving-and-being-loved community to which God calls every disciple of Jesus Christ.

As Bonhoeffer noted:

“…God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. Therefore the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s sure.” (Life Together, p. 22-23)

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