UNITED WITH CHRIST

House of Prayer
Nov 15 · 6 minutes read
Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is (y)our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4 NIV)

In this portion of his letter to the Colossians, Paul the apostle presents three foundational truths relating to the believer in Christ. They will be considered below under three headings: Reality, Responsibility and Renewal.

1. The Reality

Certain facts are described by Paul over here. He mentions how the believer has been “raised with Christ” and is now “hidden with Christ”. Earlier in the letter, he has also stated that the believer has “died with Christ” and been “buried with Christ” (2:11-12, 20).

This kind of language is frequently employed by Paul, as we find in his letters to the Romans and Ephesians.  However, when we first hear of “our death, burial and resurrection with Christ”, it may appear strange to us. We may wonder, “How and when did these take place?”

Well, we can begin to better understand what Paul is saying when we take a closer look at Romans 6, where he has dealt with this matter in greater detail. Both the manner’ and the ‘moment of “our death, burial and resurrection” are explained there.

Verses 1 to 4 of this chapter clearly show that it is “our old life in Adam” and “our new life in Christ” that is being described in terms of “death, burial and resurrection”. The ‘death and burial is with regard to “the passing away of our old life”, and the ‘resurrection has to do with “our entrance into new life”. The same passage reveals that these events took place when we were‘baptised (in water) into Christ Jesus.

Water baptism marks and accomplishes the end of our old life and the beginning of a new life, the burial of the old man and the resurrection of the new man. Its necessity and significance is easily seen from the book of Acts through the urgency shown by the apostles to immerse people in water as soon as they repented and placed their faith in Christ (2:37-41; 8:36-38; 16:30-33; 22:16).

Now having died, been buried and been raised with Christ, we are “hidden with Christ in God”. These words convey our new location or residence. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places, blessed with every spiritual blessing and with access to every heavenly resource.  Yes, it is on earth that we still live, but we are completely different from other inhabitants. We enjoy the presence of God, the anointing of His Spirit, the ministry of His angels, and authority over all the powers of darkness. Furthermore, we are concealed in Christ, under Gods constant protection and care.

2. The Responsibility

Since we have been raised with Christ, we are exhorted to “set our hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things”. The heart speaks of ‘desires and the mind speaks of ‘decisions. Paul states that the believer in Christ is to now be different in ‘passion and ‘perspective, “putting to death” everything of the old nature and “clothing ourselves” with what is of the new nature (Colossians 3:5-14).

As we live in this world and engage in its activities, we are to have a Kingdom-minded approach towards every aspect of life. A concise description of the lifestyle of the Kingdom is given by Matthew in his Gospel (chapters 5 to 7).

We are called to relate to everything and everyone “in Christ”, governed and guided by His Spirit. Whatever we do, whether in word or deed- even eating or drinking- is to be for the glory of God, with the desire to please Him in every area of our lives (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:1).

One key area where caution needs to be applied is in the realm of material possessions and earthly riches. Whereas Jesus warned that a mans life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions and commanded us not to store up treasures on earth, the world teaches that our value and happiness is in direct proportion to what we have, thereby constantly encouraging us to accumulate more and more (Matthew 6:19; Luke 12:15-21). The kingdom way is to be content and to excel in sacrificial giving; the worldly pattern is to heap and hoard so ones own longings and desires are fully satisfied (Luke 12:32-34; 2 Corinthians 8:7; 9:8-11; 1 Timothy 6:6-10).

Success, according to this world, is defined exclusively in terms of big achievements, titles, figures and degrees. But when God looks at people and exclaims, “Well done”, it is on the basis of whether they have served His purpose and done His will, no matter how small and insignificant that may seem by worldly standards (Matthew 24:45-47; 25:14-30; Philippians 3:4-8; 2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Again, people are usually well-treated on the basis of their colour, caste and circumstances. But as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we must recognize that all human beings have been created in His image and deserve due honour. Indeed God has especially chosen those who are poor and despised in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him (1 Corinthians 1:26-29; James 2:5)!

3. The Renewal

Paul goes on to speak of the radical transformation awaiting those who have Christ as their life.  All our present earthly afflictions are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us when Christ returns (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17).

Now, the way Christ is described here is noteworthy- “Christ our life”. To describe Christ in this manner is to say that He is our entire basis and purpose for living.

For Paul, to live was Christ (Philippians 1:21).  Nothing could ever compare to the thrill and joy of knowing Him.  Pauls continuous pursuit was to experience Christ in ever-increasing intimacy, in the power of His resurrection, and in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10-11). It was Christ and His cause which caused him to truly and totally come alive!

What we are fully alive to” indicates “what is truly our life”.  There are many who come alive when they are involved with work, sports, food, gadgets, studies and so on. While we as disciples of Christ can healthily engage in and enjoy such aspects of life, our hearts need to be seriously examined if enthusiasm and earnestness is missing or lacking when it comes to matters more directly associated with Christ- worship, prayer, the study of the Scriptures, fellowship, evangelism, preparing for His return…..

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!

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