Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 13 (18) (July 31, 2016)
Colossians 3:1-11 | New Living Translation (NLT)
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. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
We continue our readings through Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse. Last week we looked at how some were trying to add extra rules to this new life in Christ. Paul reminded us to grow our roots deep in Christ. He reminded us that we who were dead in our sins were forgiven those sins by Christ’s death on the cross. In chapter 2:20 Paul writes, “You have died with Christ and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world…Such rules are mere human teaching about things that deteriorate as we use them….But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”
It’s at this point that we pick up the solution to putting off the old self – or as we used to say it the carnal (or sinful) nature. Paul writes, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ…” We see this picture in baptism. Our old lives are buried with Christ when we go down into the water…and we are raised to a new creation – we are made new – when we come out of the water. Baptism is a wonderful symbol of what happens when Christ makes us new by saving us from our sins by his blood on the cross and then raising us to new life. Since we are raised to new life…we should have a new attitude — we are made new — and Paul says that we should set our sights on heaven. Think about the things of heaven – not the things of earth. I think we could say it this way. Think about advancing the Kingdom of heaven and not the kingdom of earth. This earth will pass away — it is only temporary. When Christ raised us from the dead, we died to this life. We have many “believers” who are so earthly minded, they are no good to the Kingdom of heaven. Our real life is with Christ.
Because of this, Paul gives us quite a list of things we need to put away. This list is interesting because many times we think about the outright sins – the things that are black and white and yet Paul mentions things such as anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, lying. We are used to hearing about sexual sin and other “big” sins. But Paul reminds us that there are plenty of things that are of the old, sinful nature that we need to jettison. Paul reminds us of greed and idolatry. We often think of idolatry and think of other cultures, but idolatry is any thing that becomes more important than our relationship with Christ — ANYTHING! We need to put off these things and put on the new nature.
Paul reminds us that we were created in the image of God – imago dei. God wants us to be like Him. He wants us to be in the image of His son, Jesus…there are things in this life that just don’t matter..Paul took it one step further. In Christ, it doesn’t matter if you are are Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, slave or free…Christ is all that matters…Christ is enough…Christ lives in us.
Since we are going to jump to a new scripture, I want to move beyond the listed scripture…Listen to how we put on the new self
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Sounds like the fruits of the Spirit.) Make allowances for each other’s faults. and forgive anyone who offends you…Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Christ is all that matters!