For years, I worked in the news business. Day after day, night after night, and on and on it went. New stories came, old stories went, along with every story that existed in between. And amid all of it, one of the things that was affirmed for me time and time again is just how fleeting the cycle we live in truly is. The news never stops, and if we allow ourselves to be swept up in it as it happens, we will have a very hard time ever planting our feet on the things that last forever. They just don’t exist in the news world. Paul says in Colossians 3:1-11:
If then 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. (Col. 3:1-2, ESV)
There is a danger in getting stuck in the weeds.
Part of us wants to get caught up in the brambles, focused only on getting out of the briar patch, because there is an immediacy to what is going on. We may not even be concerned with how far the field goes—just that it is there, and we must do something about it. But far more important to our understanding of our circumstances, is what happens to us despite that reality. Where will we find ourselves on the other side? Where will our attention be focused once we are out of this or that situation? And this becomes key to our understanding of what else Paul wants us to understand in this passage.
We are no longer who we once were, but who God made us to be now, through His Son Jesus, and what He did on the cross for our sins. If we believe in Jesus and are convinced He is exactly who He said He was, our lives should change. Here is how Paul puts it in Colossians 3:5-7 (ESV):
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.
The problem, of course, is that we are idol-making factories. When we allow our worldly nature to lead us, we will continue to deny our new identity, given to us as people now united to Jesus Himself when we commit to following His ways. But we cannot do it alone. We are simply not strong enough to do it by ourselves. In another letter that Paul wrote to a church in Corinth, he had this to say about how the Holy Spirit works in his life despite what he referred to as the “thorn” that was given to him “in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7, ESV):
[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
As Pastor Josh Argubright pointed out in his message Sunday, for those of us who are Christians, specifically, we do not often take sin serious enough. And if we are not careful, we may even find ourselves forgetting why Jesus had to come to earth in the first place to die for our sins. But this must not be so, as we cannot overcome this sin problem alone. We need what the Holy Spirit provides. We need each other, and we need to have a complete trust that Jesus is exactly who He says He is. Add this up together, and we find ourselves back where we started: Dying to self and our worldly situation, and rising up, again, in Christ.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God … Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Cor. 3:3 and 11, ESV).
This is who we are now, and this is the new life we are able to partake in as a result. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17, ESV).”
May we not get lost in the crazy news cycle or be caught up in the brambles of the here and now. For our purpose and direction has taken on a new life with a new focus entirely. Everything else is just a shadow of what we left behind in the past.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
- What are some of the things “above” that we should be setting our minds on? How should they play out in our lives on earth?
- What are some of the “earthly” things in you that need to be “put to death” or “put away” as Paul describes in this passage?
- How does our “new self” get “renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” regularly?
- What will help you grow in your knowledge and understanding of Jesus?
- If you are not growing in your knowledge and understanding of Jesus, why not? (And if you do have questions or want to talk with someone about this, let us know: https://www.harvestworld.com/contact-us/).
“BETTER THAN” – OUR STUDY OF COLOSSIANS IN REVIEW …