For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and firmness of your faith in Christ.

Colossians 2: 5

 

A crisp, tightly organized marching band is something that I enjoy watching and hearing. There is a quality of unity and singlemindedness that is impressive in them. This particular interest is directly related to my own experience of marching and playing in bands for many years during my school years, I am certain. I know that the end product that we see on the street in a parade is the result of hours of practice, commitment, discipline, and design. The well-oiled machine that is a polished and skillful band doesn’t just happen, and this is also true when it comes to living as a community of followers of Christ, too. Paul has chosen his words with some real care here. He uses the terms “good order” and “firmness” that come from the world of military science and practice, and the marching bands that I envision are designed to be examples of this same military order and organized strength or firmness.

 

Like the military unit or the band, there is strength to be found in numbers of people who are headed in the same direction with like-minded purpose. This is one of the reasons that God leads His people into gathering together in communities of faith. We gain support and we also benefit from the collected wisdom and understanding that several Christ -filled hearts and minds bring to bear on all of the issues of life. People were not meant to live on our own, and this is even more true when it comes to navigating a course through the perilous waters of our world with doing Christ’s will as our desire and with righteousness as our set of guideposts. There is no place other than the body of Christ where we can go to engage in this daily journey with arm-in-arm support. Marching through the often hostile territory of our world is made both safer and more effective when it is done with spiritually connected companions.

 

So, where does this order and this ability to venture out into the world with firmness of purpose and resolve of heart come from? All strength comes from Christ and is founded on God’s Word. This is true for each of us individually just as it is so for His body gathered together in various forms and structures. We enter into this unified strength by praying together regularly and through the deep study of the Word with each other. These are things that are to be done in large gatherings and in small ones. God also intends for us to take time to meditate on Him and on His Word and to listen for the utterances of truth and direction that He does speak to us. These practices are the foundation for living in that well-ordered manner that Paul is describing, but the true life of a body of Christ followers is gained and is made tangible by the way that we go into our world to proclaim the truth of Christ’s Gospel by the words that we say and more so by the way that we love and care for the people of who dwell outside of our fellowships. Christ deepens our faith and grows our character as we trust Him to take us into the world for the sake of the glory of His name.