The Cover Up
We have a tendency to hide problems. I’m an artist when it comes to finding rugs that will cover up stains or a picture that can hang over a hole in a wall. Sometimes problems seem to be too big to handle so we ignore them, some are so deep that it seems there is no hope in bringing it back up again, and sometimes we have simply been living with it so long we hardly even notice it… until someone comes along who is close enough and honest enough to put their finger on our problem.
But then we are faced with a decision. On the one hand we could chop off this nosy persons finger in order to make sure they can never put their finger on our problem again. On the other hand we can face up to the situation.
But if we decide to take this second route we need something first… and that is hope. Some problems are so daunting that we feel like a child trapped in the corner of a burning building with flames on all sides. How are we ever to escape without hope?
Living in holiness and unity is hard. Granted, some will claim it is easy but those of us who are honest know the difficulty. We know the difficulty of sins that keep showing up in our life and people with whom we struggle to get along with. But these struggles do not have to overwhelm us because God’s word gives us hope.
Our Hope: We Died
Christians have all they need to live in holiness and unity. We actually have power, and it comes from our union with Jesus Christ. This is what Paul speaks of in Colossians 3 when he calls us to kill any earthliness that remains in us since we have died with Christ. What is fascinating about Paul’s words is that he roots the command to kill the flesh in the objective fact that we have been crucified with Christ! Paul is calling us to live by faith that Jesus was crucified for our sins and that we died with him. Such a truth does not lead me to live in sin but rather it compels me to kill any sin that remains.
Our Hope: We’ve Been Raised
We also can live in holiness and unity because we have been raised with Christ. Again, Paul says in this same passage that we have been raised with Christ! If we have been raised with Christ then we are to set our minds on things above and put on the “new self”. This new life consists of compassion, kindness, humility, and patience. But this life is hard to put on! The power to put on this new life comes from our union with Jesus in his resurrection. We have actually already been raised with him. If this is true then we can certainly put on this new life.
Our Hope: We Are One Body
Finally we can live in unity because we have been united to one body. The implications of our union with Christ are stunning. The same Jesus, who lives in you and I, lives in every believer. This leads Paul to say that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek. What he means is that our ethnic heritage fades into the background and our heavenly heritage comes to the forefront. This means I as a young white male have much more in common with an older black woman who has Christ than I do with another young white male without Christ. Though there is diversity along the lines of gender, age, and race there is radical union that stands above and beyond our diversity. This is deeper than blood. This is the exact same living Christ indwelling each of us. Paul adds to the truth that Christ is in us by pointing out that we are in Christ. We in fact are his body. If we have already been united in one body certainly we can live in unity as one body.
For His Glory
When we live in holiness and unity God will be glorified. He will be glorified because the world knows there was a doctor when they see someone healed. When the world sees us living as reconciled people, when they see our lives being changed they will see the power of the Almighty. And the great news is, we have all that we need to live this way. Not because we are stronger or smarter, but because we have actually been united with Christ. His death is our death, his life is our life, and we are his body. Therefore, let us pursue unity and holiness.
– thoughts from Colossians 3:1-17