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Conflict in the Culture



Continuing in our collection, Live Again, Ben Stuart walks us through Colossians 3:7-11 and helps us understand how to navigate the tensions and conflict in the world today.

How does the reality of the resurrection of Jesus change how we are supposed to live in difficult times?

“In these, you too once walked while 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.”
Colossians 3:7-11

Key Takeaway

The world needs to see a Church where the resurrection power of Jesus Christ has united everyone in it. There are no lines or barriers that the Gospel does not cross. We are all chosen, made holy, and loved by God, so we treat others with compassion and kindness.

We are meant to have compassion with each other. Compassion means to hurt with each other. How do the people of Jesus navigate conflict in thr culture?

Paul brings up every fault line in the culture in this passage and proves that the resurrection power of Jesus provides us everything we need to face conflict in a different way.

The world needs to see it. They need to see we have another way. The people that don't know Jesus will never take our philosophy of reconciliation with God, who they can't see, seriously if they don't see reconciliation among us, whom they can see. This is a Gospel issue. Why would they buy a philosophy if it wasn't working out practically? The will believe in Jesus Christ when they see us get along.

This is the pivot point in the book. Paul has been walking us through how Jesus Christ is King, seated at the right hand of God, and has launched a Kingdom. He has radically changed us from the inside out individually and corporately.

The last message talked about how Jesus is Lord over our sexual lives and defines for us a sexual ethic. The rules of the King aren't stifling, they're liberating. Within the covenant of marriage, you can be generous to the other, not constantly using someone to meet your needs physically and emotionally. Sex is a gift. We desire the mind, body, and soul of the other.

Next, Paul moves on to what we are to put away and what we put on.

Colossians 3:8. Paul tells us to put away abusing each other. He moves from the internal to the external.

Anger-> Wrath (anger heating up)-> Malice (intent to harm)-> Slander (assault name and character to others)-> Obscene Talk (talking harshly to the person)

We don't do this anymore. We put a beat between anger and action.

Colossians 3:9. Why not lie to each other anymore? Lying is an inherently selfish act. It is amending or omitting data to make yourself look better. You are denying the information someone needs to make an informed decision. You are doing it because you care more about yourself than them. We all tend to deny certain facts and hold on to other that help our cause. Paul says stop.

Colossians 3:10. We have a new self that is being renewed in knowledge day by day. That means we are also being renewed in His image. So where He builds, we construct, not deconstruct. We're compassionate, not hard and cruel. We do it in a constructive way, not a destructive way.

Colossians 3:11. These are the tension categories of their day. Greeks looked on Jews for not being "educated". Jews looked down on Greeks for not being circumcised. Greeks looked down on Barbarians, anyone who didn't speak Greek. Everyone looked down on the Scythian, they were compared to wild beasts and dogs. Paul is noting that they are divided and hostile along ethnic, religious, and economic lines. These classifications unravel in Jesus. We are now family.

Remember he is saying this in the context of someone in a new body and being renewed. It's a process. Look at the disciples; Jesus had to work with them to get along. After Jesus ascends and the Holy Spirit comes, Peter heals a Jewish man in Acts 3, but doesn't want to talk to a gentile until God changes his heart in Acts 10. In Acts 13, the Gospel continued to break ethnic boundaries at the Church at Antioch. It was comprised of Jewish man, a man from northern Africa, A man called Niger most likely referencing his darker skin, a Roman who was a friend of Herod who murdered John the Baptist, and Saul, a former pharisee. They were worshiping and praying together. In Galatians, when Peter was hanging only with the Jews, Paul confronted him about it. Peter was teachable and he learned. When Peter died, it was in Rome as he was ministering to Roman gentiles.

Colossians 3:12. Paul address us by the same names Jesus goes by. Jesus is chosen, holy, and beloved by the Father. He came to choose us, make us holy, and tell us He loves us. So, in response we are told to put on compassionate hearts, show kindness (compassion in action), be humble and meek (trying to understand), and gracing each other always.

We can't solve every problem in the world, but we can be a house on a hill. We can hurt, love, bear with, and laugh together. God's power is transformative.


"The Lord loves him and bears with him, therefore you must not despise him or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise and expects you to show tenderness to others from the sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in Heaven and he will be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have on earth is to you right now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts. And though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever."

John Newton

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Scripture References

  • Colossians 3:7-11
  • John 17:21
  • Acts 13:1
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.