Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:15-17
In the space of three verses, Paul thrice exhorts the believers in Colossae to gratitude. Each invitation to thankfulness appears in conjunction with an affirmation of Christ’s Lordship.
They are called to be thankful because Christ’s sovereignty offers peace in an uncertain world (v. 15). They are enjoined to praise God with grateful hearts because Christ’s word gives wisdom to perceive reality as it is and will be (v. 16). They are summoned to act in the world in the name of King Jesus, giving thanks to God, who through Jesus enables their speech and service (v. 17).
For Paul, gratitude does not arise merely from seeing how our circumstances are favorable. Gratitude is a function of experiencing Christ as our Lord, living under Christ’s aegis, following Christ’s word. We are grateful to God because we recognize what Christ has already done and believe in what he will continue to do.
As we look back on 2022, we give thanks to God through Christ for:
- The 59 scholars from 29 nations in whom the LeaderStudies program invests, and especially for the newest 15 who joined their ranks this autumn.
- The 21 schools that are building strong futures for their regions in collaboration with the Vital SustainAbility Initiative.
- The 300,000 Ukrainians impacted by the work of our seminary partners in Ukraine with support from the Ukrainian Relief Fund.
- The legacy of our President Emeritus Larry Smith in leading ScholarLeaders to become the ministry it is today.
- The incredibly generous financial support of individuals and foundations used by God to make this work possible.
As we look forward, we pray in Christ’s name for:
- A new initiative, “Reconstructing Theological Education in Ukraine,” and the national theologians who will lead the rebuilding of seminaries even in the midst of war.
- The training and pastoral care of the scholars in LeaderStudies, that we would develop additional ways to support their formation for lifelong service to the Global Church.
- The network of Muslim-Christian study centers we are forming, that it would become a space for speaking truth, cultivating love, and practicing deeds that would glorify God and foster peace.
And when we pray, we invoke the name of our sovereign Jesus, knowing that he will bring to completion what he has already begun.
Christopher, for the ScholarLeaders Team