When we are young, we learn all sorts of new things. Somewhere along the way we learn how to match – we learn how to see two objects and realize that they are the same. (Hopefully somewhere along the way we’ve also learned how to color-coordinate – but that’s another story.) In elementary school, they test for this. Can a child see two objects, identify that they share common characteristics and group them together? If so, it demonstrates an ability to observe and organize – skills that are valuable as the child learns increasingly new information.
Sometimes it can be difficult to apply these same skills to our relationships with other people. We know that we need “common ground” in order to relate to one another, but there doesn’t seem to be any foundation on which to build. There may be occasions where we strive to identify those shared characteristics, but most of the time, we don’t even work that hard. If they aren’t immediately apparent, we just assume that there is no natural affinity between us.
For Christians, however, we always share something in common, namely the confidence that we have in Christ. Because we rely on Him, and Him alone, for our salvation as well as our sanctification and to sustain us, we are joined together in the most important ways. And it’s important to encourage each other with reminders of this truth.
We can see this in Colossians 2:1-5. Paul is concerned with the churches he has yet to visit, because he wants to encourage and strengthen them; he wants those churches to mature (See “The MacArthur Bible Commentary, John MacArthur, 2005). He knows that this depends on their recognition of and deepening of their “assurance” or their confidence in Christ. As they are joined together in love for one another, he wants them to spur each other on to a deeper and greater understanding and reliance on the One that they serve. Even though he can’t visit, he knows that their hearts will be encouraged as their shared confidence in Christ and their love for one another, propels them to an even greater assurance of who they are in Him.
It can be a hard truth to remember. When another believer disappoints us, when we seem to disagree, it can be hard to see that we have anything common. Yet what we do share is the one thing that will remain after our disaapointment fades and our disagreement ends; it is what will last for eternity.
People can be joined together for all sorts of reasons. They like the same music, the same sports, or the same style of clothes. For Christians though, our affection for each other is rooted in our common confidence in Christ. May this be what we look to when we are tempted to let our affection wane, knowing that, with fellow believers, our “common ground” is the firm foundation of Christ.