For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Colossians 3:12-14

Chapter 3.  Christ, The Pattern for a Fulfilling Life

One Focus Only; 3:1-4.  Paul speaks of our lives as hidden with God in Christ.  The source of fulfilling Christian experience is in heaven, not in “earthly things.”  That with seemed to offer so much to the Gnostics is worthless to Christians.  In contrast we are to fix our attention on the “things above.” where Christ sits at the right hand of God, his very position showing his authority.

There is another sense in which our lives are hidden with God.  The full glory of relationship with Jesus will only be understood when Christ appears.  Then we will appear with him in glory.  Until then the glory of the Christian life may continue to be misunderstood by those who, puzzled, look on and insist there must be “something more.”

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The Glory of Love; 3:5-14.  The glorious promise of Christian life is expressed in the fact that we can not put to death what belongs to our earthly nature.  This is explained in Romans 6:1-14 and involves counting our death with Christ as a reality.  This frees us to conduct our lives without the old sinful responses of immorality, greed, anger, slander, and other evils.  Now a whole new way of life is possible.  We have actually been given a new self, and our new personality is in the process of a renewal which will express the image of its Creator.  The picture is striking.  In us Christ still lives in man’s dark world!  It is Christ in us, not the religious notions drawn Jewish and pagan cultures, that is the key to a fulfilling life.

What is a truly spiritual life like?  It is simply a daily walk in which we forgive others as the Lord forgave us; in which we are compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient.   It is simply living with others the kind of life that Jesus lived when he walked on earth, and thus to reveal the loving and holy character of our God.  Fulfillment and spiritual reality are not found in the exciting and the spectacular.  What counts with God is a life of love lived in the real world.  This is the life that Jesus yearns to live within us.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

The Glory of Shared Worship; 3:15-17.  Because so much of our life in Christ and its glory is hidden, we need to come together as God’s people.  Together we reaffirm the great truths of our faith, encourage each other in holy living, and praise God in prayer and song.  The uneasy sense of need for something more fades as we worship and together focus our lives on the Lord.  Here we experience Jesus, wrapping our hearts in peace.

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.

The Glory of Servanthood; 3:18-4:1.  As in Ephesians, Paul now looks at the most significant of human interpersonal relationships.  These are significant because they are both basic and common.  In each relationship we are to concentrate on serving others as a context in which we can live out Christ’s love.

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

 

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