Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
What does Colossians 3:12–14 have to do with a pantomime horse?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
I once went to a wedding where this was the passage preached on. During the sermon, the bride and groom were invited to put on different items – jackets, scarves, hats, etc. These items represented the different virtues Paul says God’s chosen people should clothe themselves with.
And then, as a final flourish, out came Horace, the two-person pantomime horse. I’m not sure whether the bride and groom were asked to put on the horse costume, but the point was clear: love (AKA the pantomime horse) binds everything together. Love is the thing which holds together all the other virtues.
‘Over all these virtues, put on love.’
As I sit here studying these words with a cup of tea in my hand, the sunlight streaming in through the window, and with no one else around, I back myself to embody this in the day ahead.
But check in with me when I’m cycling to work or in a frustrating meeting. Suddenly, it seems a whole lot harder. Patience is a great aspiration until you realise it means you have to deal with really annoying people and not get cross.
What are the moments in your day when these instructions seem easy? Thank God for them.
What are the moments in your day – or week – when these instructions quite frankly feel like some kind of cruel joke? There are probably more than you would care to admit.
Maybe they get a little bit easier (maybe!) when we understand why we’re called to this. And it’s pretty simple: because we are ‘God’s chosen people’. We are ‘holy and beloved’.
Do you notice how love bookends these verses?
‘As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…’
‘…over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’
When we know that we are loved, it is easier for us to love others. After all, we love because he first loved us, right?
From that position of belovedness, and our knowledge of it, we can act accordingly. We can put on the (metaphorical) pantomime horse and love one another.
Even when the neighbours are loud at 8am on a Saturday morning. Even when a friend is late for the millionth time. We can love one another – even when others are being really annoying.
Associate Speaker, LICC
Church & Theology Executive, International Justice Mission