Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Colossians 3:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The New Life in Christ
3 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[a] life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.[b] 7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.[c] 8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive[d] language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewal[e] there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
In today’s reading from Colossians, there is a phrase which seems odd at first reading: “for you have died.” Clearly, Colossians was addressed to Christians who were very much alive, so what is the message here? The message is one of transformation and new life. It is the message of death and resurrection in this life.
What God desires to bring about in our lives is a new thing. It may not be what I want to happen. It may not be what I hoped would happen. It may not be a restoration of the way things were before. But God brings about resurrection, not just resuscitation—and there’s a difference. Resurrection means new life, resuscitation means that the old has been restored as it was. But, because God resurrects, God gives new situations, new surprises, that we had never anticipated, things that we may never have imagined. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation,” says Paul, “Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
For there to be a kind of resurrection to a new life, there must first be a kind of death of the old, so there is the call to “put to death” those things which are destructive and rob us of the fullness of life so that we can be “raised” to a new life.
The apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 6:5-11:
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
In Colossians 2:20, the writer contends that his readers have already “died” with Christ. Now in 3:1 he asserts that those who have “died” have also been “raised with Christ.” He assumes that his Colossian readers have participated in these experiences of death and resurrection in their own lives.
Colossians says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” In this way, we see beyond the brokenness to wholeness and new life. In this way, we experience resurrection living today. In this way, we see the possibilities of who God calls us to be and intends for us to be. In this way, we can look at our own failings and shortcomings and our own incompleteness and see—not just brokenness—but the places in our lives where the power of God can work to make us whole and complete and new.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster