Saturday, October 06, 2007

Never forget who you are

Scripture text: 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.
We usually say that forgetfulness is a sign of old age. We are ready to forgive somebody who is old when they forget but we could not do the same when younger person failed to remember.

Last May when I attended the Asian Baptist Congress in Chiang Mai, the director of a Mission organization was scheduled to present their mission programs and activities. But when the time came for the meeting, the director was absent. Hours later after the meeting, she appeared and told us that she forgot everything about the meeting because her mind was focused on something else. And I know, a lot of times we had the same experience.

Here in our passage, Paul knows that we forget easily. If we forget even the most important appointment we made, he believes, that there is no reason why we could not forget some important truth about our faith. We tend to forget these important truths because our attention is focused on other things.

In our text today, the Apostle Paul is reminding us of who we are in Christ and how important it is as a Christian to see everything from different perspective—from heavenly perspective. It is impossible to live a Christian life if we keep forgetting who and what we are in Christ. Here the Scripture reminds us of important truths about our life as followers of Jesus Christ.

We are reminded of our new identity in Christ (v. 1)

It’s sad that many Christians do not know exactly who they are in Christ. We have this idea that we are not different from most people around us who obviously have different faith. Not knowing the difference, makes us think that we can live like them.

Our understanding of who we are in Christ comes from the Bible. It is the main source of our knowledge about our identity in Christ and if we have not been reading it or much more studying it, we are left with a poor knowledge of ourselves.

His word is a formative factor, not our feelings, not what somebody is telling about us. The starting point of understanding our new identity is the word of God. It tells the truth about us.

Here in verse 1, the Bible tells us we have been raised with Christ. This statement implies that two important things have happened to us—we have died and we have been raised up from the dead. For how can we rise up if we have not died?

But what does it mean exactly? How did we die and how are we raised?

According to the Scripture, when Christ died for our sin on the cross, we also died with him there spiritually. He died in our place. This means that when he died, we died with him. We died to sin. We have been set free from the penalty of sin and the power of sin.

And when Christ rose again, we also rose with him and here I will emphasize in spiritual sense. Because of his resurrection, we now have new life in the Spirit. The Bible says we have been born from above by the power of the Spirit to live a new life, abundant life in a new spiritual dimension.

According to the text, we dwell spiritually in Christ in heavenly realm. It means we are identified with him and he with us. I hope that when people look at us they will see Christ because here it says that our life is hidden with Christ in God. He is our life. We are one with him. We dwell with him. We are not earthly dwellers. We are heaven dwellers.

Now it is easier said than done or seen in our lives. Nonetheless, we should see and start acting about this truth. Although our understanding about spiritual reality is limited at this point, we should see this new reality. This is made doubly difficult because of the sufferings, difficulties and limitations that we have been experiencing here on earth in general and here in Mae Sai in particular as strangers and perhaps as oppressed people.

Nonetheless, if we believe and live the truth that we are dwelling in Christ, that we are united in Christ in all our ways it will make a big difference on how we live. It will make a big difference how we live everyday. It makes a difference in how we see ourselves and our self worth. This is the reason that the Apostle Paul reminds us that we have new identity in Christ and we should never see ourselves apart from it.

We are reminded to focus on things above (v. 2)

The natural consequence of a new identity is having a new focus. We must concentrate our focus on eternal realities.

Just look at the things that the people around us identify us. People tend to identify us with the material things we possessed. They know us by where we live and what kind of house we live in. We are even identified by what kind of car or motorcycle we are driving. We are identified on what work we do. Are we a doctor, an English teacher, a construction worker, a factory worker, a market vendor or a bus driver? Now these may be what we do, but definitely would not define who we are. But somehow sometimes, we allow these things to define who we are, but we should not.

We cannot avoid this. We are living in a material world and more often than not we are identified by the things we possessed or the things that possessed us. And it should not be. This is the reason that the Apostle Paul reminds us that we should have a new focus based on our new identity. We must discover who we really are in Christ.

Our text says that our life is hidden with Christ in God. Something happened in our life that we should be constantly be aware of. In this sense, even at present while we are still here on earth, we are already dwelling in heavenly places. We are citizen of heaven but we are living in a while here on earth. And because of this fact, we do everything from heavenly perspective. We should always see ourselves as joined in Christ. Never, even a moment to see ourselves apart from Jesus. He is our life.

Because of this we are exhorted to set our hearts on things above, set your minds on things above. In other words, focus our attention to what is essential in our life, the heavenly realities. The problem with many Christians is that we are focused on what is happening around us. We are so focused on earthly things that we began to think like we are no leaving this world.

So what are these things above we are ask to seek? Foremost I believe here is the joy and blessings we have from daily intimate fellowship with Christ. People do not actually see this but they know its effect. By spending time with Jesus everyday in prayer and meditation upon his word you develop a strong sense of communion with him and this result in a strong communion with people believers and non-believers alike.

And because Jesus is gracious, we become gracious. Because Jesus is merciful we become merciful and people around us could use that mercy. Focusing on Jesus’ love and humility makes us more loving and humble. This means that setting our hearts and minds on things above results in a positive influence in a world full of negative things. Christians can turn the mourning into dancing. We can turn sorrows to the joy of the Lord. We can heal the broken hearted and we can set the captives free.

We should let these things above define us. Let our union with Christ identifies us. Christ has so identified with us that when comes again, we will appear in him in glory. He includes is in his life, he also include us in his ultimate victory.

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