If You Have Been Raised With Christ
The third chapter of Colossians is the turning point of the letter. The first two chapters of the letter has been about the sufficiency of Christ. Christ is all that you need. Christ has canceled the record of debt that stood against us (2:14). Paul looks back to what he wrote earlier in the letter. Through Christ we have experienced a spiritual circumcision where the sins of the flesh were cut off from us when we were buried with him in baptism. Baptism is the moment where the sins are cut off and we are raised with Christ through faith in God’s powerful working (2:12). We were dead in our sins but God has made us alive. A resurrection has taken place in Christ that we are now alive after being dead from our sins (2:13).
Paul now prepares to lead his audience to learn how Christians are to live. If you are raised with Christ then these are the things that you must be doing in your life. The activities we will read about in Colossians 3-4 define what Christians look like. If we are not doing these things, then we cannot call ourselves Christians nor think that we are followers of Christ. Therefore, in the upcoming lessons we are going to ask an important question: You say that you are a Christian, but are you? Paul is going to put us to the test with his letter to the Colossians.
Keep Seeking The Things Above
Paul says that if we have truly been raised with Christ then we will keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is. What are you seeking? What do you seek? What are you looking for in this world? What are you pursuing? There are things in life that motivate us to act. What is it that gets us off the couch? Or maybe our life motivation is to get to the couch. We are getting things done so that we can get to the couch. We just want to relax. We want to retire. We want to stop laboring. We want time for ourselves. What is it in life that you are going after? One of our greatest dangers is our occupational pursuit. We define ourselves by our work. We find our value in our work rather than in Christ. The world tells us that you are only as valuable as the job you do. Therefore, if you are a CEO you are a very valuable person. If you are a trash collector or a janitor then you are not as valuable in the eyes of the world. Is your job your life pursuit? What do you seek? Do you seek having more possessions? Is life about feeding the inner craving that desires to have more stuff? What do you spend the majority of your time doing? Is that what you are seeking in life?
Paul says that Christians are vigorously pursuing Christ. The Christian is always seeking Jesus. Are we sponges soaking in all we can of Christ? Or are we soaking in other things as first priority? Paul pictures the Christian life as a quest for Jesus. You are on an expedition as you live each day. If you to Disney’s Animal Kingdom there is an expedition ride that takes you back into where these wild animals live. Above each seat is a listing of the various animals you can be looking for and to identify. The tour guide will also tell you to look out of the car at various places to try to look for certain animals. One of the more difficult animals to see are the lions because they hide in the shade of the rocks. So you look with great diligence trying to see if you can spot the lions. Paul pictures Christians who are always looking for Jesus. Christians are always having their eyes resting on heaven. Christians are seeking the world to come. Their eyes are always focus on Christ and his rule and his authority. What are we looking for as we live life? Are we looking for Jesus? Are we looking for a relationship with him? Often we are looking for so many other things in life.
Keep Thinking About Things Above
Paul draws this thought out even further by telling us to not only have our eyes focused on Christ but to always be thinking about the things above. Paul is asking what we have our minds focused on. Are you preoccupied with Christ? Are you thinking about where you are going? Are you thinking about eternal things or physical things? As the words of one of our favorite songs reads, “Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand.” Is your heart set on eternal things? Where does our hope rest? The Christian will see everything in the light and the background of eternity. We are not going to live our lives as if this world is all that matters. We seek the things above by setting our minds on things above. There really is only one way for us to set our minds on things above. We can guess about God and make assumptions that we know God. The only way to set our minds on things above is to humble ourselves and learn about him through the way God has revealed himself to us: the scriptures. How can we set on our minds on things above if we do not know what things are above and what things are earthly? Paul is telling us that the Christian knows God through his word. Christians focus on God’s truths and they go through their day. There must be time devoted to God each day. It is not like the world will stop spinning if you stop answering email, reading texts, and taking phone calls and spend time with God. You will make it through by not checking everyone’s Facebook status. You can live without knowing what everyone is doing on Twitter. Set your mind on things above. Keep thinking about God’s priorities and will. Think about spiritual things. Think about the scripture you have read.
Earthly things are not all sinful. There are many earthly things that are not sinful but do not have an eternal impact. Non-sinful things become sinful when they distract our attention from Christ. Most of the things we do are not sinful. The sin comes in when they pull our attention and pull our affections away from Jesus.
Let me say something that hurts. Paul is telling us that we should want to do these things. If what I am telling you sounds terrible, there is a really big problem. If you do not want to listen to the things of God, sing about the things of God, read about the things of God, and talk about the things of God then Christ is nothing to you. You have not be raised with him. Paul proves this in the next sentence.
You Are Dead and Your Life Is Hidden In Christ
You are dead. We need to read Paul’s words again because we do not let the thought get into our hearts very easily. You and I are dead if we truly are Christians. If we are truly his disciples then our life is dead. We have completely died to this world and our own personal lives are now dead. Now we should not be upset by this thought because whether we like it or not, we were dead anyway. Paul told us in Colossians 2:13 that we are dead in our sins. So we can think that we are alive all that we want, but we are ignore the fact that we are condemned and dead because of our sins. Christ has made us alive and set us free from sin only so that we will become dead again. You are dead. Your life is gone. There is nothing left of you. In fact, Paul describes it like this: “Your life is hidden in Christ.” Your life is not seen when people look at us. All that people should see is Christ. They do not see Brent’s life. They see a life that is devoted completely to Jesus. We are not living! We are only living in Christ! Our life is in him alone — if you are truly risen with him! The source of our life is not from my head or from my desires or from my heart. The source of my life comes from Jesus alone. Jesus is the basis for everything we think and act. We are to have a life singularly focused on Christ.
Christ Is Your Life
Paul is going to teach us the same point by saying it another way in verse 4. Christ is your life. You are dead. Christ is your life. You have no life. Christ is your life. We do not do things that do not show Christ. When Christ appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Paul addresses the reward for those who live a Christ-driven life. Christ is going to make a glorious return. I love that there is no argument about this truth. This is just a key truth. Christ is coming back. We can ignore this truth as the rest of the scoffers of this world ignore. When Christ comes then you will see the glorious life you have in Christ. Your life now is dead so that when Christ comes you will be revealed with him in glory. The things above that you are seeking are going to happen. We have no life but Christ’s now so that when he comes we will have life with him.