Colossians 3 is originally what drew me to study this letter. Paul begins to dig into what it means to live a life in Christ – and how that changes everything about us. Take a quick minute and read that chapter.
He starts by reminding us that we have been made new. Christ has raised us up from the dead with Him, making us a new people with new hearts. These new hearts hunger and ache for the things above – we are no longer bound by our worldly, selfish desires. Those desires quickly sour in our mouths, never satisfying, never feeling quite comfortable anymore. Our hearts desire Christ. "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (v.3) Paul reminds us that Christ is our life. He covers us – messy, broken, repeatedly failing – with Christ – perfect, blameless, whole. We are free to fail... and free to pursue Him without abandon. (And we're only in verse four!)
Verses five through eleven feel a little heavy, but bear with me. Go back and re-read them. "In them you also once walked... but now you also, put them all aside... [you] have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him – a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all." Drop the mic, Paul. He's starting to really dig into the meat of what it means to be FREE. Each morning we are given the gracious mercy to put on a new self in Christ (and even when we get up and say, "no thanks," He still pursues us to do it – praise Him for that!). This new self is wise... and sees no distinction between the people around him/her, and only sees Christ.
This new self doesn't see comparison. It doesn't see stereotypes. It doesn't look at another and see the long list of "all of the ways you've hurt me." It doesn't see race. It doesn't see homeless. We are God's chosen, holy and beloved, and we put on this new self... "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." We hang in there when it's tough. We forgive constantly. Anytime we want to complain about so-and-so... we forgive. But "beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." This is our new self: love. It is the only way to find peace, the only way to drop comparison, the only way to drive out jealousy, the only way to calm our fiery tongues. Love.
But all of this leaves me questioning – how do I put on this new self? I want it. It sounds great. Does Christ just do this for me every day? Because if so, I don't see it... how do I focus in on this? How do I let this new self in, instead of fighting it?
Paul answers, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts... and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly, as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom... singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." Let His peace rule over you. Pray for it. Meditate on it. Soak it in with your first breath each morning. Let His word dwell among you richly. Read his Word. Read it alone; read it together. Become a community of people who read their Bibles – and speak these words of truth to one another. Teach it to each other. Encourage each other with it. And in all of this, be thankful.
"Lord, we praise you for who you are. Thank you for saving us – for claiming us as your beloved children – and thank you for making us new. We fail over and over, and you continue to make us new, to wash us clean. You cover us in your mercy and grace so that we no longer have to fear how others might see us – when our eyes are on you, seeking you, others will only see you. Our life becomes yours. Thank you so much for that. Please give us your eyes to see others the way you do. Help us to see you in them, instead of focusing on what scares us or angers us or ways we measure up or don't measure up to them. Help us to only see you. Help us to have compassion and humility. Help us to be gentle. Lord... give us your peace. We desperately need it and so often we don't feel it – we don't let ourselves stop and feel it. Make your presence known to us. Help us to feel your hand on our shoulder, bearing the load for us. And please help us to be people of your Word. We are so easily distracted and so many other things take priority in our hearts over your love letter to us – when that letter is the only thing that will satisfy our restless hearts. Help us to be in it, sew it into our hearts, and let us be a people who speak truth to one another. It's the only way to truly walk in your love with one another. We love you. We praise you for all you've done, and we thank you most of all for your Son, and for His death on the cross. It's in His name that we pray. Amen."
Each week, I create an iPhone background with a verse and share it here on TPA. Having God's Word in front of me several times a day helps me in so many ways – it soothes my heart and mind with truth, strengthens my faith, and helps me memorize Scripture so that I can accurately share it with others. Feel free to download the image for your own phone (and pin it and share it, too!) as many times as you'd like.