< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Colossians 3:1-4

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Colossians 3:1-4

Colossians 3:1-4 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 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.

Up to this point the supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ has been asserted as a counter to what the false teachers were teaching. Now we get in to how this belief affects the Christian’s everyday life in this world. Where it says set your minds on things above (some Bible versions say “seek the things that are above”) suggests continuous effort. Philippians 3:20-21 tells us that Christians are citizens of heaven, now living for a while on earth. Colossians 1:5 and 12 tells us that we are awaiting our heavenly inheritance.

So we need to keep a steady eye on our destiny. We should live by the standards of the place where we already belong and await the full realization and manifestation of what we will be after the coming of Christ.

To set your minds on things above means to look at life from God’s perspective and to seek what He desires. This doesn’t mean we withdraw ourselves from earth and earthly activities because we’ll see in the next verses that Paul lays down a series of ethical principles and normal relationships he expects Christians to have. But, there’s a difference now: Christians look at things against the background of eternity. We don’t live as though the world is all that matters. This gives us a new set of values and a new way of judging things. Certain things the world thinks are important, we no longer worry about.

We go on doing the work of the world and using the things of the world, but we use them in a new way:

Giving is more important then getting

Serving is more important then ruling

Forgiving is more important then avenging

Our standards of values are God’s values, not man’s. When Paul says your life is “hidden in Christ” – the Greeks commonly spoke of being hidden in the earth when a man was dead and buried. So this relates to a Christian’s old life being dead and buried. It’s a spiritual death, so instead of being hidden in the earth, we are hidden in Christ.

Another phrase here: Paul calls Jesus “Christ our life.” In Philippians 1:21 he said, “Christ means life to me.” And in Galatians 2:20 he said, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

To Paul, Jesus Christ is not only the most important thing in life, He is life itself. Sometimes we say, “Music is my life” or “My kids are my life” or “He lives for his job”. And we mean this is what that person finds meaning in. For Christians, what we find meaning in, is Christ. A commentator wrote, “The reason a Christian can and does set his mind and heart and affections on the things above is because he judges everything in the light of the cross.” In the light of that cross, the world’s activities are seen in their true value. In the light of that cross he sees that love is the only kingliness and service the only royalty.”

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