Colossians 3:1-11 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Live the new, hidden life
1. Raised with Christ
2. Live like Christ
Hans Christian Anderson told the story of a poor swan that grew up with ducks on a farm. He was mistreated and made fun of because he was the ugly duckling that didn’t fit in. He suffered much verbal and physical abuse because he looked so different. He spent a miserable winter cold and alone. The next spring, though, he had grown into a beautiful swan and seeing other swans, he joined them and lived happily ever after, finally understanding that he was beautiful all along.
The Christians of the First Century to whom Paul wrote may have felt like ugly ducklings because they didn’t fit in with the decadent culture of their time. Twenty?First Century Christians may feel the same way. Paul reminds us today that although we may feel like ugly ducklings, out of place in this corrupt world, we really are beautiful in Christ, with a new life hidden in us. And he urges to live the new, hidden life.
Paul wrote, For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. “He’s dead,” the attorney told the judge. His client had been on trial for murder but in the middle of the trial he had a heart attack. “He’s dead is a powerful and profound statement. It sets in motion the reality that things from this point on will be different. The past looks different, and the future is no longer an earthly concern.” (Meditations Vol. 42, #2, p. 69) When a man on trial dies, that’s it. He can’t be convicted anymore.
You died, Paul wrote. You died. When did you die? A long time ago in a place called the Garden of Eden. You died with Adam and Eve the day they ate the fruit. Standing there in their fig leaf camouflage trying to hide from God, they had already died.
We died, too. And, like them, we have been trying to hide from God ever since. Cast out of Eden, kneeling in the cursed soil of our dead end lives, we try to hide the shame. We pour ourselves into that cursed soil, hiding the pain of our shame with countless empty pursuits. But no matter what we set our minds to, no matter what we make out of this world now corrupted with sin, it all ends up back as dirt and dust, just like you and me. Solomon called it all meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
But when Jesus died on the cross all that we were – sin, corruption, misery and death – died, too. He took it all and nailed it to the cross. When Jesus rose on Easter morning, we had new life. Baptism connects us to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Each person’s baptism is their own personal Easter. Through baptism we are raised to new life in Jesus.
Paul said of that life, And your life is now hidden with Christ in God. “The T?shirt reads ‘Baby Inside.’ The expectant mother sporting the apparel wants everyone to understand her condition. The expanded midsection is not the product of over?indulgence. There is a hidden life inside, a life waiting to be revealed on her child’s date of birth.” (Meditations, Vol. 38 #3, p. 89)
You have life but it’s hidden with Jesus. Where is Jesus? He is alive in glory. He is alive in heaven. He is alive with God. And that is where your life is, too. Like an unborn baby, we have life, but we just can’t see it yet. We know it is there, but we can’t see it or hear it or smell it. We look for evidence of it, but so often fail to see it. It is hidden under suffering and pain, crosses and losses. It is hidden under weakness, sin and death. It is hidden so deeply that we can’t see it; we can only believe it.
But it won’t be hidden forever. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. When Jesus returns we will see life. With glorified bodies we will see, touch, taste and smell life in heaven.
But right now, heaven seems a little weird to us. We wonder what it will be like and maybe we even wonder if we will really like it. In these earthly bodies heaven should feel that way. These mortal, corruptible bodies and minds are not suited for heaven. When the time comes we will be glorified with glorified bodies and minds so that we can see, touch, taste, and smell the life we have with Jesus for eternity. And we will feel right at home there because that’s where our life has been all along.
If that’s where our life is right now, that’s where our focus should be. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. What are our minds set on, mostly? Bills, wayward children, aches and pains of old age? Do mortgage payments, retirement and financial plans occupy much of our thinking? Does worry and fear of the future keep us awake at night?
We can’t ignore these things, but they are not life. Life is Jesus, the cross and the empty tomb. A person on life?support must stay connected to the machine to have life. Like a person on life?support, we have life only when we are connected to Jesus by faith. That faith, begun in us through baptism, gives us life.
Where are you right now? Are you in Appleton trying to get as much out of life before you land in the nursing home? No. Because of your connection to Jesus by baptism, you are living with Christ right now. Your life is hidden with him in God.
Live with eternity on your mind. You live in God. Live for God. You live with Christ. Live for Christ. You are no longer dead. In Christ you live. Live in Christ.
Why is it, though, that our minds are still stuck on earthly things? Why is it that our minds are focused on things and stuff and work and sin? Why can’t we focus more on the things above? It’s because we are still carrying around a dead body, the old self that weighs down our walk and our thoughts.
So Paul urges us: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. Sexual immorality is the broad term, which he then defines by the acts and the thoughts that are part of sexual immorality. He says those thoughts are greed, that is, a sinful craving for more sexual pleasures, a greed that is never satisfied. He also calls it idolatry. The object of desire becomes an idol, which is worshiped more than God. To such a god is given the first thought in the morning, the last wish of the evening and occupies the mind throughout the day.
Our culture says such things are no big deal. But Paul is very clear: God’s wrath comes on people who live like this. So what do we do? Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature . . . Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. A man was operating a rock crusher at a quarry. As he worked, his hand was caught in the conveyor belt. He couldn’t get it free. He was about to be pulled into the crusher so he did the only thing he could do. He grabbed a nearby axe and chopped his hand off. It was the hand or life.
Paul tells us to put to death the earthly nature. Cut it off. It’s either the earthly nature or life. Of course, that’s not easy. It’s hard to get the things of the earthly nature out of our life. We need special strength to do that. So Paul talks about renewing the new self with knowledge. This knowledge comes from God’s Word. Use God’s Word daily to renew the new self to have strength to put off the old self.
For you died. Your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Live the new, hidden life God has given you.