We are just over half way through our ‘Colossians: Hope of Glory’ series! Paul in the third chapter of Colossians describes for us what a transformed life with Jesus looks like, and how this changes the institutions and relationships we are part of.
Old Life vs New Life
In closing chapter 2 of Colossians, Paul has just finished warning the Colossians against being deceived into living by the laws and philosophies of their world (namely extreme Judaism and early Gnosticism). These practices have no power to restrain the human condition or make it holy. Instead, he encourages the church to take off their old selves, their earthly nature, as though taking off a coat (v9). Then, because Paul’s audience are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, then can put on a new coat of their heavenly, kingdom nature (v12).
Paul reminds this community that they have already been given salvation in Christ. They are not earning their salvation by their good behaviour, or just trying to stop behaving badly. Instead, because they have already been made right with God through Christ, they take off the old way of living to put on the new, transformed life.
The New Lived Life
After Paul describes what the transformed life looks like in us, he then goes on to describe what the transformed life looks like around us. While the examples he uses are specific to Roman Christian living in AD 60, there are principles for us here too.
He has something to say to wives, husbands, fathers, children and slaves. You might not fit any of these categories, or maybe some, but the instructions he gives are all symptoms of the transformed life. They are applications of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. But ultimately, Paul is telling us to live in a way which demonstrates the sacrificial, self-giving love that Christ showed us.
Society often projects the image that Christian life is about what we do not do. That Christians put all of their focus on just not doing sinful things, that they either become the judge for the sinners or we collapse under the pressure. Paul teaches us that this kind of life produces no results. Instead of focussing on just not sinning, we are to completely remove the old life and put on the new. We do this not to impress God and gain our salvation, but it comes from the knowledge that we have already been made alive in Christ. This transformed life working in us ought to transform the everyday relationships and institutions we are part of.
- With Christ’s sacrificial and self-giving love as an example, what areas of your life do you need to remove the old self, and put on the new self?
- What does that mean for when you go to work, speak to your children, attend your Lifegroup or any other situation where you interact with others?
- Kerrie Genge – Lifegroup Leader