Put On The Glory of Christ
Throughout the month of November, I will be reflecting on the book of Colossians, and I invite you to spend time reading and reflecting on these words from the apostle Paul and Timothy to the church in Colossae. This week, we will spend a few moments reflecting on the third chapter of Colossians.
Click here to read Colossians 3.
In Colossians 3, Paul and Timothy begin to make clear just how the life of a Christian begins to change and differ from a life without Jesus. Whereas at one point we were one way, now that we have met Jesus we are completely different. In fact, the language that is used here (and in other places by Paul too) is that of putting on new clothing or a new identity. It is the kind of language that we might use when we talk about renewal or restoration. We put on the qualities and characteristics of Christ (such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience). We take off the parts of our lives that belong to the earth (such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil desire, and greed/idolatry).
Not only that, but Paul and Timothy continue at the end of this chapter and beginning of chapter 4 with a household code–a common literary device to give instruction to all members of a household. The code calls all members of the household to participate in the life of faith as well as in the putting on of the characteristics of Christ that have already been mentioned previously.
So, for a chapter that seems more or less fairly straightforward, what might we glean today from reading this passage that is not already obvious?
Allow me to offer 2 ideas for you today:
First, although the chapter is fairly straightforward, do not assume that living obediently to God nor are these instructions simple and easy to follow.
What Paul and Timothy advocate for here is nothing less than complete denial of selfishness and complete surrender to God. Whether we are new to faith in God or lifelong disciples, to set aside the old way of living according to the way of the world is a daily choice and decision, just as putting on the characteristics of Jesus is. While our baptism is a signal to the community of faith and the wider world of our intentions to make Jesus Lord of our life, and while salvation is given once for all, the opportunity to live as Jesus lived is a constant choice. To choose to love our neighbor as ourselves is a choice in each interaction and in each moment. We are constantly given a chance to be patient and gentle with one another. We learn to love and to love better day after day. To put on the glory of Jesus is something that we must consciously do at every opportunity.
Second, when we choose to live as Christ, not only should we remember that it won’t always be easy, but also that it won’t always be easy going.
I remember being cautioned by a mentor when talking about prayer that just because we are trying to spend time with God doesn’t mean that Satan is not trying to interfere. In fact, when we go to God in prayer, we should be ready for the “other team” to show up too. Choosing to follow Jesus day after day, opportunity after opportunity is not always easy, and nor will it always be easy going. The enemy forces of Sin and Death are ready to pounce at any and every opportunity. To put on the new life with Jesus means that we are actively ready to face off against the old life that we were once in bondage to.
However, even though we know that it won’t always be easy going, we also know that we have Jesus. Paul and Timothy write that our lives have now been hidden with Christ in God. We rest in this promise, that even when we fail, and even when times are difficult, we rely on Jesus who has hidden us in the protection, forgiveness, and grace of God.
Colossians 3 paints a picture of the old way of life and the new. To live in the new life is to put on Christ. It won’t always be easy, and we won’t always be free from attack by the spiritual forces of Evil, Sin, and Death. However, we have been redeemed by Jesus, and we have hope because we are given life in our God. So today, let’s put on Christ. Let’s show the world the glory of our Lord.