At church on Sunday, we discussed Colossians chapter three. The Lord confronted me through the first few verses: “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God” (Col. 3:1-3).
I woke up that morning with an overwhelming sense of being broken. As a vessel I am a crack pot; I don’t hold water so to speak; I don’t function at my highest level. My lack of worth roared inside like an industrial shop-vac. This was my state of mind as I shuffled out the door to celebrate the resurrection 😉
As we read Colossians 3:1-3, the Spirit got my attention: You need to seek what is above, where Christ is and not look for the living among the dead (Luke 24:5-6). What I was as a non-Christian is dead and buried. The old man, Adam, was crucified with Christ. That includes all the ways Adam manifested in my sinful lifestyle. Because of this, Colossians 3:9 tells us we can “put off” the old man with his practices. (As a side note, translations that say “old self” instead of “old man” are wrongly individualizing Paul’s words. This verse is talking about behavior that flows from our union and identification with one humanity or another. Our corporate identity in one man or the other—Adam or Christ—is the source of our worldview, lifestyle, and eternal destiny).
We are like an organ harvested from a corpse. Through the cross, God cut us out of Adam and transplanted us into Christ. We are part of a new person, plugged into all his blood vessels, attached by His own living tissue. We “put off” the old man simply by acknowledging the transplant; simply by recognizing we are part of a New Man (Eph. 2:15).
The New Man is the only way we are to measure ourselves because He is the only way God measures us. But it isn’t only our lives as non-Christians we must put behind us. We must also put our Christian lives behind us.
How do we view ourselves as we experience sanctification, as we grow spiritually? Do we see ourselves as incomplete? As lacking, unfinished creatures? Is this the viewpoint that is “above, where Christ is”? No. According to that viewpoint, there is only Christ. He is all and in all (Col. 3:11). My life is hidden with Him; my mortality is swallowed up in His life (2 Cor. 5:4). I don’t enter into this valuation at all—not as sinner, not even as saint.
We all have these thoughts that we are not what Christ is. We all sense our limitations, our weaknesses. We all desire to have this Christian thing down, to be more spiritual. But these pious thoughts only lead us away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). Our desire to be like God can cause us to fall from the fact that we are God’s image in Christ. (Hmmm, I think I’ve heard this before. Something about a garden, a snake that said, “You shall be like God” to people who were made in God’s image to begin with….).
Pray with me that the Spirit will orient us to things above, where Christ is, and away from the earth. This is His work. Transplants only take if the body accepts the new organ as part of itself. Christ has accepted us. We are interconnected with Him; all that is His circulates through us, nourishes us, and allows us to remain a living part of Him.