Living Under Christ, Part 2 of 2
“Therefore, if you have been raised together with Christ, seek the things above, about whom Christ is sitting down at the right hand of God; think about the things above, not the things on the earth. For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God; when Christ is revealed, your life, then also you will be revealed with him in glory.
“Therefore, put to death the parts of the things of the world, sexual impurity, general impurity, lustful passions and evil desires of the flesh, and greed, which is idolatry, according to these things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. In which you also formerly walked, when you were living in them; but now you also put away all these things, wrath, anger, evil, blasphemy, filthy speech from your mouth; do not lie to one another, taking off the old person with his actions and putting on the new, which is renewed in knowledge according to him, the image of the creator, wherein there is no Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, but Christ is all things and in everything.
“Therefore, put on as chosen saints of God and having been loved, affection, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patient, enduring with one and other and forgiving each other if anyone against someone has a complaint; just as also the Lord was gracious with you, thus also you; but in all these things have love, which is a uniting bond of perfect unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, in which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing you, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with grace in your hearts to God; and everything which anything if you do in word or in deed, all things do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:1-17, my translation)
Since Christ is supreme, believers are to live under Christ in faith, love, and unity. But that is not all. Paul tells his audience to think on heavenly and not on earthly things. Our identify is hidden in Christ. It is in Christ we find our everything. We find our hope and life in Christ, even when he is revealed in glory. Paul uses language of clothing to further discuss the life that is conducted with respect to Christ supreme. Put off and put on. Put off sexual immorality. The word for sexual immorality is the same root word used in the contemporary term, pornography (pornos, graphos). Sexual immorality is about extra-marital sexual relations. Such things are to be put off by Christians, by those who answer to Christ. Not only sexual immorality, but also impurity. This word was used in connection with sexual immorality in similar vice lists. As a technical term, it denotes being dirty, but figuratively it marks moral corruption. Christians are to put off moral corruption. In addition, believers are to put off lustful passions and evil desires of the flesh, including greediness, which is idolatry. Not only are they to put off, but they are to put away wrath, anger, evil, blasphemy, and filthy speech. Blasphemy in this context is abusive speech in a reviling, defamatory way. Christians are to put away speech that abuses the reputation of others. Furthermore, filthy speech, when taken alongside of blasphemy, refers to obscene expressions to further expand derogatory speech. It is speech that concerns sexuality in a socially distasteful way. Those who follow Christ’s supremacy are to put away such things. Christians are not to be liars, either. Christians are those who have died and been raised with Christ. To use the clothing language, Christians have taken off the old person’s “clothing” and put on new ones, which is a renewed knowledge in accordance with Christ, the image of God the Creator. In Christ there is no race, no ritual markers, no social stigmas, no social classes. In Christ, everyone is equal. As a result, we need to put on the new clothes.
And what does Paul tell his audience to put on? As if they are chosen saints loved by God, they are to put on affection, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. In addition, they are to bear or put up with each other, forgiving them if they have a complaint, because Christ has forgiven us. They are to put on love, the unifying bond. The peace of Christ is to rule in their hearts as one body, and they are to be thankful. They are to let the word of Christ dwell in them richly, in wisdom, allowing it to teach and admonish them. They are to sing songs with gratitude to God. And whatever they do in word or deed, all of it is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus while giving thanks to God the Father through Christ.
How well do we dress? Are we still wearing old clothes as Christians? Or have we gotten rid of our old rags to put on our new clothes? Even today, we face challenges to put off things in favor of putting on others. To live under Christ, the Supreme One, is to put on the new clothes. Our appearance makes a difference. Our appearance is also an outward representation of an inward reality. Is our appearance demonstrating to the world our inward reality? It should be. As Christians, we have the responsibility to stop gossiping and ruining each others’ reputations, not only because we are all co-people, but because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not speak ill of anyone, Christian or not. We need to be a people marked by patience rather than anger. We need to be devoted to our spouses in marriage. We need to show compassion, affection, and love. We should not be following the evil lusts of the flesh. We should be thankful, and we should sing to God with gratitude. After all, he has given us the opportunity to change our appearance and has given us a clean slate.
Let’s focus on what we should put on. To dress well, we should be showing compassion and affection. How might we do that for each other? How about giving a kind word to someone when he is down? How about listening to someone when she needs to speak her mind? What about giving someone a burger when he is out on the street, seemingly homeless, possibly hopeless, and is asking for spare change? What about assuming the best intention rather than boiling over quickly and assuming the worst? What about serving others in little or big ways, whether it be dishing out soup at the local shelter or helping your neighbor by mowing their lawn? Are we not to put up with each others’ imperfections? Are we not to shrug off your fellow believers’ annoying traits or actions? Are we not to forgive others of those imperfections and annoyances? Are we not to forgive others for the wrongs they do to us? Shouldn’t we forgive? Are we not to dwell on the word of Christ? Are we not to be thankful? Is this not why we pray over our food and give thanks when we come together and eat? Paul put it simply and succinctly: whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord while giving thanks. No matter what you do, do it as though you are doing it for Christ, and be thankful that you have the opportunity to do it for him. In so doing, you will be the best dressed believer around, and you will certainly be living under the supremacy of Christ.