Summary: Part 6 of series Jesus, Post-Resurrection. In Colossians 3 and 4, the Apostle Paul shows how the supremacy of Christ should show through our personal purity; Christian fellowship; the home; our work; our witness to the world; and in the way we serve God.
Living First Things First
Colossians 3 and 4
May 28, 2006
Some might say that in the third and fourth chapters of Colossians, Paul gets PRACTICAL, because that’s where he sets out to show us how the superiority of Christ over all things ought to be displayed in our daily lives. But I don’t want to call it “getting practical,” because that implies that the first two chapters, where Paul strongly declares and defends the superiority of Christ, are impractical. I do not think that is true. See I believe we cannot live practically at all unless we have a right idea of who God is, so Paul starts there. Nothing makes more of a practical difference in our day to day lives than what we believe about God. People who think that our beliefs about God are impractical are fooling themselves. You show me a person who believes God is just a big Santa Claus in the sky and I’ll show you a person who is mad at God for all the things he doesn’t have – in daily life. You show me a person who believes God is an evil task-master waiting to zap her with lighting, and I’ll show you a person who is paralyzed with fear over every decision and every action – in daily life. You show me a person who believes God sits up in heaven keeping track of every swear word and every smoked cigarette and I’ll show you one of the least loving, most judgmental and guilt-ridden and irritating so-called Christians you ever met – in daily life. You show me a person who believes that God loves us because of his gracious mercy, that they themselves are a sinner, and who believes God wants to have a relationship with us and has laid out guidelines for us to follow for our own well-being and I’ll show you a person who conveys that love to others, and wants them to come to Christ and find peace – in daily life. There simply is nothing more practical than what we believe about God. So Paul does not begin with belief which is impractical and then move on to behavior which is practical. He begins with the practical reality that our behavior is always based on some belief system that lies underneath.
So in chapters three and four, we see that it is not merely what we believe and how vigorously we stick to it that matter, but that this belief MUST have expression in our daily lives. A proper understanding of who God is leads to better understanding of who WE are, which puts in line for us so many things that cannot be meaningfully understood otherwise. This sets in line the course of our thinking, feeling, and behaving – in other words, it has practical, daily effects in our everyday lives. Let’s look at what those effects ought to be today.
In chapters three and four, Paul tells us that the preeminence of Christ ought to be displayed in our daily lives in six areas: personal purity, Christian fellowship, the home, our daily work, our Christian witness to the world, and our daily service. We’ll look briefly at each of these areas and will then wrap up this series. Instead of reading both chapters, I’m going to just begin the message, and I’ll read verses as I refer to them – this I believe is the best way to deal with large chunks of text. Let’s begin with the first two verses.
Colossians 3:1-2 (all NIV)
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.
Probably the best way to think of this is this way: live your earthly life in a way that is worthy of your heavenly position. Live your earthly life in a way that is worthy of your heavenly position.
What does this mean? It means personal purity. Oriental, Roman, and Greek religions did not contain standards for personal purity. A person could go to a temple, make a sacrifice, then go back out and live life in nasty ways and it didn’t make any difference. Not so with Christianity, where, as we read last week in Psalm 51, the sacrifice that God really wants is the sacrifice of a humble heart. If our hearts are humble, our whole lives will be different, beginning with the way we manage our desires and appetites, which are the closest things to us, and the things most deeply imbedded in us. We realize Paul was talking about personal purity when we read on:
Colossians 3: 3-11
3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is youra life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.