Since you have been…
Colossians 3:1 reminds me that, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” (NLT)
Contemplating (and memorizing) this chapter of Scripture, I am struck by the notion of how life should look, “since you have been…”
Living for Christ entails a change of lifestyle from your former existence.
Living for Christ entails a change of lifestyle from your former existence. While I don’t want to run through a list of “do’s and don’ts,” it is interesting to see the contrast Paul discusses in Colossians 3 regarding the “old self” and the “new life.”
Here are some of the differences I see in a life in Christ, verses and existence without Him.
I am free to encourage.
In the NLT, the term encourage or encouraged appears 92 times. One of my favorites is:
Mt. 9:2 Some people brought him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child. Your sins are forgiven”
Because of the faith of the friends of the paralyzed man, his sins were forgiven. I think of the faith of others in my life and how that faith has blessed me. I just pray that my faith can intern be a blessing to others.
We live in a culture that thrives on the put-downs. May it never be so among Christian brothers and sisters. Instead, may we encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). To do any less is to fall back to our former way of existing before Christ gave us new life.
I am free to engage.
In fact, I am called to engage. Not just other Christians, but to engage those who are still outside of Christ. Mt. 28:19 calls me to
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Yes, I am to engage the people in the culture all around me. To meet them where they are and to bring them to where Jesus wants them to be. I cannot do that if I stay in my little “Christian Cluster” where the only people I know are already Christians! I cannot be effective in engaging the people in the culture if I only rant and rave about how horrible the culture is. Jesus reminds me in Matthew 10:16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So, be as shrewd as snakes and as gentle as doves.”
In other words, be smart about how you engage those who are still in the culture! There are ways to effectively engage, and since we are into animal/critter analogies, let me remind you of the adage “you can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” Yeah, that is the southern boy coming out in me!
I am also (obviously) called to engage my fellow Christians. Mt. 28:20 makes that clear: “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” My calling includes the responsibility of helping my fellow believers grow closer to Christ in their daily walk. That means I need to hold them accountable when they stumble. That means I need to utilize resources to teach them how to do life in Christ in a more meaningful way than they have in the past (or ever). That means I may have to get all up in their business from time-to-time. As they should also do to me!
I am free to enjoy.
Jesus said in John 10:10 that His purpose is to give a rich and satisfying life. Contrary to unbiblical teaching, that is not a reference to a health and wealth gospel. It does mean, however, that life in Christ is rewarding in ways not even comprehendible by those who do not know Him. In my (nearly) 30 years of following Christ, I have experienced the highs of life – my marriage to Peggy, baptizing our 3 children into Christ, seeing them all get married, having grandkids – and I have seen the lows in life – my mother dying of pancreatic cancer, other loved ones passing on, watching former youth group kids turn their backs on Christ – and yet I can do more than just survive all of the above. I can go through those times with a confidence and a joy that is not dependent upon circumstance. I know that Jesus is with me every step of the journey. With that knowledge, I can truly say that I enjoy the journey. I do not have to dwell on the difficulties. I know that Jesus literally feels my pain. I can relish the sweet times. I know that Jesus rejoices with me in those times.
I do not have to dwell on the difficulties. I know that Jesus literally feels my pain.
So, how about you? “Since you have been…” what differences do you see in your life in Christ verses the existence you had before Christ came to raise you in new life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.