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Walking Points

Grace and Peace

This Week's Bible Study: Grace and Peace
Colossians 1:1-2

In these opening verses of Colossians, the Apostle Paul provides us with a rich introduction of theological truth, woven together with the three powerful strands of our divine calling, communal identity, and divine blessing. I pray you will grow in your understanding of how these apply to your life.

1. Divine Calling

Paul begins by identifying himself as an apostle, a title that signifies one who is sent with authority. His apostleship is “by the will of God,” underscoring that his role is not self-appointed but divinely ordained. This echoes the narrative of Jonah, whose reluctant mission to Nineveh was also by God’s sovereign command. Similarly, in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, the depiction of the prophet Jonah reminds us of the inescapable nature of God’s call. (Just ask any pastor you know what their “call story” was like, and you’ll discover God usually, and always lovingly, gets his way.)

2. Communal Identity

Paul addresses the recipients as “saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae.” This dual identity – saints (holy ones) and faithful brothers – highlights both their sanctified status and their commitment to faith. C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia offers a powerful illustration of communal identity and belonging. The Pevensie children are not just visitors in Narnia; they are Kings and Queens, called to live out their royal identity. They are called to “be who they are.” God tells us that we are holy. Therefore, we must now be holy.

3. Divine Blessing

Paul extends his familiar blessing of “grace to you and peace from God our Father.” Grace (charis) and peace (eirēnē) are not mere greetings but profound theological concepts. Grace is the unmerited favor of God, as seen in the life of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, where the priest’s act of grace transforms a hardened criminal into a man of virtue. Peace, shalom in Hebrew, signifies wholeness and restoration (not merely the absence of conflict), reminiscent of the serene landscapes in Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, evoking a sense of divine tranquility and order.


Key Principles

1.      Divine Calling: Understand and embrace that your role and mission in life are ordained by God’s gracious and sovereign will.

2.      Communal Identity: Recognize your identity as part of the holy community of believers, committed to faith and fellowship. There ought not be anyone aspiring to be a “Lone Ranger” follower of Jesus.

3.      Divine Blessing: Live in the grace and peace that come from a relationship with God the Father.


Bible Study Questions

1.      What does it mean to be called “by the will of God?”

2.      How does Paul’s apostleship by God’s will influence his authority and message?

3.      What is the significance of Paul including Timothy in his greeting?

4.      How are believers identified as “saints” and “faithful brothers (and sisters)?”

5.      What does the term “saints” imply about the nature and calling of believers?

6.      How does the concept of community manifest in Paul’s greeting to the Colossians?

7.      What is the importance of grace in the life of a Christian?

8.      How does Paul’s blessing of peace reflect Old Testament concepts of shalom?

9.      In what ways can understanding God’s grace transform a believer’s life?

10.   How can we actively pursue peace in our relationship with God and others?


Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

1.      Reflect on a time when you felt a strong sense of divine calling. How did you respond?

2.      How does knowing that your identity is in Christ influence your daily life?

3.      In what ways have you experienced God’s grace recently?

4.      How do you contribute to the sense of community within your church or fellowship group?

5.      What practices help you to live in the peace that Paul speaks of?

6.      How do you see God’s will shaping your life’s direction?

7.      What does it mean to you to be a “faithful brother/sister” in Christ?

8.      How can you extend grace to others in your community?

9.      How do the concepts of grace and peace influence your relationships with non-believers?

10.   Reflect on how art, literature, or music has helped you understand biblical truths.


Action Steps

1.      Embrace Your Calling: Spend time in prayer and reflection to discern God’s calling in your life. Seek confirmation through Scripture and counsel from mature believers.

2.      Build Community: Actively participate in your church and its various fellowship and discipleship groups. Engage in acts of service and support for your brothers and sisters in Christ.

3.      Live Gracefully: I once heard someone use the phrase “ambassador of God’s grace.” I like that. Practice extending grace to others in your daily interactions, mirroring the unmerited favor you have received from God.

4.      Pursue Peace: Cultivate habits of peace through regular prayer, meditation on Scripture, and reconciliation in relationships where there is conflict.

 

Dale Tedder

Dale Tedder is a Global Methodist pastor in Jacksonville, Florida. If you would like to keep up with his online ministry or read other things Dale has written, you can check out his website, Walking Points. You can check out his author’s page for books he has written. Finally, Dale’s podcast, Walking Points, can be heard wherever you listen to podcasts.

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