If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 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. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3.1-4.
False teaching had crept into the church in Colossae. The Christians there were being urged to adhere strictly to a set of dietary laws and to observe strictly a religious calendar of holy days (Colossians 2.16-23); but Paul is having none of it. He reminds them that when they became Christians two things happened to them in spiritual reality that were symbolised by the baptism that they underwent: first they died with Christ and then, “having been buried with him in baptism … you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2.12).
“So however you might feel,” Paul is telling me this morning, “the moment you committed yourself to Jesus and made him Lord of your life, you and he became one and what is true of him became true of you. Has Christ died? Then so have you. Has Christ been buried? Then so have you. Has Christ been raised? Then so have you. Has Christ ascended to the Father? Then so have you.”
So where am I now? “In a very real sense,” says Paul, “you are where Jesus is — in the Father-heart of God.” That is central to this morning’s reading and two things follow from it.
First, I don’t belong to the old world any more, even though my days are presently spent in it. That old world may devise external rules and regulations for living a supposedly God-pleasing life but they have nothing to do with me and I should have nothing to do with them. But, second, I do now belong to the new world — the world that is to come. At the moment, it is a hidden world, just as Jesus is a hidden King; but one day this old world will be transformed and remade as all the hidden energy and love and life of heaven floods into it and Jesus will appear to reign over it in glory and majesty. “And at that point,” says Paul, “the real you — the you that belongs to that new world, a resurrected, re-made, glorious you — will appear too, along with Jesus, because that is where you now are, in the hidden King.”
“Once you really grasp that, Neil,” says Paul to me this morning, “you will have discovered the true path to holy living. Shift your focus from the old world to the new world where the new you is presently hidden away with Jesus and you will find that you start to dance to a different tune, march to a different beat, and think in a completely different way. Your life here and now will begin to resemble and anticipate your hidden life of the world to come.”