Living a Christian Life, Colossians 3

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Colossians 3.1-4)

Colossians is a grand exposition on what it means to follow the gospel. Having started out with a cosmic overview of the redemptive work of Christ in Chapter one, it moves into what it means to be alive in Christ in chapter two and here in chapter 3 it gives an overview of the eternal life of a Christian before moving into what it means to live this temporal life as one “raised in Christ.” Verses 1 to 4 show us where we came from, where we are, and where we are going as people renewed in Christ. Indeed all these are in Christ for we have been raised with Christ, we are hidden with Christ, and we will be revealed with Christ.

This passage recalls what it means when we have been renewed in Christ by our baptism in the blood of the Lamb [1]. Where we once were dead in our sin [2], we have now been “raised with Christ” and have crucified our old selves with him [3]. Therefore our life is not our own but Christ’s in that we partake of the cross daily and in his defeat over death in our association him. Indeed, in verse 17 Paul writes saying that we must do all in “the name of the Lord Jesus” whether it be prayer, or helping the poor, or building the Church, all is done through the power of Jesus Christ and not our own power.

This infusion of the breath of life into we who were once dead brings us to this present day where we are to seek that which is above and to seek the one who is at the right hand of the Father, a position where Christ wields the same power and might of the Father. This seeking is what is described in the rest of the chapter. It is our current state as humans with a renewed spirit but a corrupted flesh, a state where we must always strive to put to death that which is earthly within us, and cleave to that which is good. We, as people have imperfect bodies, bodies still marred by sin and not yet resurrected from the dead, as will be in the final days. It is thus for us to continue to die daily [4]  so that we may lose all markings of self that divide us from each other and fully immerse ourselves in Christ who is to be our new identity. The picture of this is as Christ, much as he shed his body for us so that we may live, we must shed all that is earthly in us, as in death, so that in life all that is in us will be Christ. It is only then that Christ is all, the full sum of all Christians identity, uniting all Christians under the singular banner of Christ, and in all working to make us more like unto himself in an act of reconciliation. It is also always encouraging to know that we are already called [5] and that we are already holy, that is set apart by Christ unto himself. We must always let the spirit work in us so that we may have the strength to deny ourselves daily in the name of Christ so that he may increase and we may decrease [6].

In this current age we are also hidden with Christ in God. This is not saying that we have our old selves covered, for it has been totally destroyed in the resurrection of Christ, a resurrection which destroyed the dominion of death. Rather it is to say that we are hidden as Christ is hidden in that where Christ was seen for a short while, he has now returned to heaven where he is hidden from the eyes of the world [7]. And in considering how we, as people are hidden with Christ, we should consider Luke 8.17 “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” How are we as Christians hidden with Christ? We are hidden in that our new selves have no visible appearance, and those that are not Christian cannot understand the joy and peace we find in Christ because “those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually” [8]. We are hidden from the knowledge of the world. They can never know the fullness of what we have in Christ and what we display outwardly should, if displayed in its fullness, not be understood by the world. Today, we are hidden with Christ, partakers of the divine nature [9] and awaiting the return of our King as we seek to make our life more like Christ.

This passage finally reveals the culmination of life as a Christian: our emergence in glory with Christ our saviour. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” [10]. This is our hope, that in this life we start to change from what was once dead to something alive and glorious, sharing in Christ by his death and our participation in the crucifixion our our old selves on that cross. All, so that in the new age we can get new, glorified bodies. Paul writes of our transformation and instills in us a glorious vision: “What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body” [11]. Thus, at the final day, when Christ comes again in glory, we too can be with him in glory with our inner selves no longer hidden, but as with Christ, revealed for all to see. This is our hope. Eternal life is only a small facet of our hope as a Christian, our greatest hope is that we can share in the glory of God, partake of the life he gives, and live forever in perfect communion with him, forever glorifying and enjoying him forever, world without end.

I earnestly hope that all Christians can come to a better knowledge of Christ so that in him we may all grow closer as a community united in the bond of peace, by love. It is always important to remember where we came from, where we are, but most of all the firm hope we have in where we are going. This life is not all there is, what we see is not all there is. We are forever hidden with Christ and one day we will be revealed with him, fully reconciled with him, and emerging with him in glory.

references
[1] Revelation 7.14
[2] Ephesians 2.1
[3] Galatians 2.20, Romans 6.6)
[4] Colossians 3.5
[5] Colossians 3.12
[6] John 3.30
[7] John 14.19
[8] 1 Corinthians 2.14
[9] 2 Peter 1.4
[10] 2 Corinthians 3.18
[11] 1 Corinthians 15.42b-44

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