Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[our] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory…16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Here’s a timely grammar lesson for 2020 courtesy of the Apostle Paul written during the first generation after Jesus, sometime in the 50s, while Paul was in prison. His If/Then sentences present conditions/situations [the Ifs] and the resulting/expected outcomes [the Thens] that even the passage of time can’t diminish.
If – “you have been raised with Christ”
Then – “seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right
hand of God”
If – “you set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”
Then – “when Christ who is your[our] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”
If – this Word from the Apostle has found it’s life in you today
Then – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Whose peace are we called to? Re-read the verses above, then take a deep breath and give thanks to God that the “peace of Christ” is the gold standard we’re expected to live by, not our own.
We are confronted with novel circumstances in our world right now that impact our lives enough to alert us to remember, that is truth. And this is reality: all our riches, and peace, dwell “among” [in the company of] “the message of Christ” that lives in our hearts. Our hearts are where the groundswell of gratitude reveals our understanding of the vast truth of what His peace really means to us.
“In the company” of your hearts and daily lives “the message of Christ” is completed by the simple recognition of this absolutely timeless truth that makes peace possible:
❤️Christ holds your heart in His own❤️
Colossians 3:12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
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My first thought was Colossians 3:12 sounded like the Designer version of the armor of God. A new wardrobe filled with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forgiveness, love, peace, thankfulness, wisdom and gratitude. This is not the armor of medieval times. It has the same complete coverage as the heavy metal version but it looks quite different. This wardrobe honors the qualities the Designer Himself has chosen to display what His impenetrable protection looks like. It covers every vital thing necessary to win over the opposition at the same time it reveals Love is the thrust of outreach that makes this “armor” a thing of beauty that still wins ❤️s.
Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. [NKJV]
We’ve been duped by our own wisdom to depend on personal strength of character and our “bootstrap” mentality as the secret to a successful life of faith…and everything else. Paul’s reality for us is very different from that human wisdom. I jotted sets of keywords as I often do and distilled them into this:
You were raised with Christ to seek those things where Christ is. Set your mind on things above with Christ in God who is your life. When He appears you also will appear with Him in glory.
The words I’d reassembled from Colossians became what reminded me of another variation of Paul’s wisdom from Henry Blackaby’s workbook “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.” “Find out where God is at work and join Him there.”
“You were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is…” Join Him there!
Colossians 1:25 …I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. [ESV]
Paul is quite clever in choosing the concept of “mystery” for his presentation of
the Gospel. Our interest is piqued by the elements of a mystery; who, what, where,
when and why. The Word has now been “revealed to his saints.“ That solution has made known “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is…”
Christ [the who] in you [the where], the hope of glory [the what]
now revealed [the when]
that we may present everyone mature in Christ [the why]
The puzzle pieces are all there in the Gospel. They’re the same for every believer. The blessing of the mystery is revealed in the process of assembling the pieces. The shapes are similar because they’re designed to engage the heart, mind, soul and strength to discover the right piece that fits in the right place at the right time knowing the completed puzzle holds the reality of this promise…
Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory
The last couple of weeks I’ve been juggling studying Colossians with one group and 2 Samuel with another. It finally occurred to me I could combine each of these studies for my weekly blog posts. The blog is the priority of my heart and the contrast of those two studies is an either/or struggle for my brain. I hope dedicating more study time to each of them will allow me to discover connections between them that can change the perspective of my heart and brain into the reality of unity. So here goes…this Wednesday in Colossae.
Colossians is the work of a man who’s intent on not letting physical separation keep him from revealing the reality of Jesus Christ as God’s provision for the people of a culture he’s not really a part of that he’s never met in a city he’s never visited from a prison cell 1200+ miles away.
THAT is a run-on sentence Paul would admire. It also emphasizes his passion for Christ is all about perspective that doesn’t stop despite the piled-on nature of his own circumstances. He wrote Colossians to remind us that “perspective” can be our application. “You received Christ Jesus, the master; now live him.” The circumstances of life do not have to be a barrier to living the life we’ve received from Him.
Colossians 2:6 & 7 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. [MSG]
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken
2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ…17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
A mystery can be as simple as a jigsaw puzzle or as complicated as finding the next piece of faith that begins to help you see the image of Christ in youself.
Our life of faith is the mystery. Piecing together that life is the puzzle. The Bible is the box. The many pieces of the Scripture are what fill the box. Inside that box are a jumble of puzzle pieces of irregular shapes, sizes, color and design but every one is a necessary part to complete the puzzle. FYI: No one ever solves a jigsaw puzzle by leaving all the pieces in the box and pulling them out one at a time.
Paul has given us a big table in his New Testament writings to pour out the whole contents of the box on and begin solving the puzzle. Paul’s secret that brings life to the puzzle and solves the mystery of our faith is the top of the box, the completed image so we “may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.”
📌 NIV 9…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…
📌 NLT 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.
📌 NLT 28…perfect [or mature] in [your] relationship to Christ.
It’s interesting that Paul’s long ago words are prayers of encouragement from an old friend I’ve never even met. There’s another complete stranger who’s become a friend over the years too: Oswald Chambers. His book My Utmost for His Highest has been a meaningful companion to my life of faith for almost 40 years now. That’s pretty notable considering it’s “just” a 365-day devotional. It’s online, free and most importantly a searchable resource. [https://utmost.org]
Here are two perspectives from Chamber’s writing on Colossians 1 that directed my own thoughts.
📌 [9/30] sacramental personality.
📌 [11/9] If we preach the effects of Redemption in human life instead of the revelation regarding Jesus, the result in those who listen is not new birth, but refined spiritual culture
Jesus is our redemption. Our salvation is the revelation of him and that changes our heart and mind about many things. In my own experience as dramatic as that revelation is it doesn’t automatically change the habits of personality. I think what Oswald Chambers calls sacramental personality is exactly what Paul is addressing here. Sacramental personality is letting the transformation of that revelation to your heart and mind reveal itself in your personality too. That’s why Paul prays for “God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”
Sacramental personality is our post-redemption challenge. It’s pretty easy to get comfortable with the assurance of your salvation and end up finding you’re only part of the “refined spiritual culture.” It’s very easy to excuse personality issues as “it’s just the way I am.” Jesus has done his part, he’s changed your heart and mind. You now belong to him but your personality is where you begin to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” That’s why Paul reminds us “we also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need” to be ”perfect [or mature] in [your] relationship to Christ.
My approach to reading the Bible has been the same for a long time now. I read and write about small portions of a chapter, often just a couple of verses. I know God is trying to speak to me and sometimes it’s just easier to narrow my focus in that way so I can hear better. I really had no good explanation of why that method works so well for me until I found this quote attributed to Jean-Pierre de Caussade in the book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life.
“Fix your attention upon what you are reading without thinking about what follows. . . . Pause briefly, from time to time, to let these pleasant truths sink deeper and deeper into your soul, and allow the Holy Spirit time to work. . . . Simply let the truths sink into your heart rather than into your mind.”
I read the Word and other resources because I believe there is the reality of the life of Christ in them. I expect that reality to change my life in Christ too. Up to this point in this post I’d only read from the book Discernment. That quote was good but it felt incomplete without a Scripture reference so I did the digital version of randomly opening the Bible hoping for an unexpected surprise of applicable truth from the Word and up popped this verse of the day from biblegateway.com: Colossians 2:9-10.
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” [NIV]
That truth isn’t particularly mystical because of course the Bible is full of applicable wisdom. Nevertheless it’s interesting to consider that particular truth in that particular moment could be the reality of blessing from the Holy Spirit to remind me that “In Christ” is where I want to be. In Christ I am being brought to fullness of both heart and mind. May it be so!