Easter Sunday (A) March 23, 2008
Raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1-14)
This is the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Did you know it’s the day we celebrate your resurrection, too? It’s true. In Col. 3:1, Paul speaks to every follower of Jesus and declares, “…You have been raised with Christ!” In other words, when Jesus burst out of that tomb on Easter morning, you did too. Have you ever thought about what that means? In Col. 3:1-14, Paul tells us what it means:
1. Because we have been raised with Christ, we have a new life!
Because you have been raised with Christ, his life has become your life (vv. 3-4). Because we have this new life, why are so many of us trying to recycle the old? Recycling can be a good. But nobody recycles everything. How many of you recycle used paper diapers? What about toilet paper? Do you hang it up to dry? The very thought is disgusting.
Now that we’ve been raised with Christ, Paul says any thought of recycling our old lives is disgusting, too. God never tells us to reform our old lives. In fact, God tells us that our old life is dead! In verse 3, Paul writes, “For you died, and you life is now hidden with Christ in God.” In verse 5, he goes on to instruct, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature (your old life)…” And again in verses 7-10 he speaks of taking off your “old self ” and putting on “the new self.”
When Jesus burst out of the tomb, you did too. That means you’ve got a new life. Don’t try recycling the old. It can’t be salvaged. It can’t be reformed. Dump it, trash it, kill it – leave it behind. Leave it behind because our old life has to do with the things of earth. Paul says our new life has to do with things above. In Col. 3:1-2, he reminds us:
2. Because we have been raised with Christ, we have a new home!
In verses 1-2 Paul writes, “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.”
During my time in the Army Reserves I spent five weeks training in New Jersey. I ate in New Jersey. I slept in New Jersey. I breathed New Jersey air. My physical body was in New Jersey. Do you know where my heart was? Do you know where my mind was? Back home in Utah. Why? Because even though my body was in New Jersey, my life was back in Salt Lake City. I never sank roots in New Jersey. In the end, New Jersey was only a place to leave behind.
Because we’ve been raised with Christ, Paul says that’s what this world ought to be for us – a place to leave behind. We may eat in this world, sleep in this world, and breathe this world’s air, but our life is in Christ and Christ is seated in the heavenly realms. Because our life is in Him, this world can never be more to us than a temporary residence. So how can we keep ourselves from sinking down roots?
How do we keep our hearts and our minds fixed on the values and priorities of eternity? Paul says we must remember:
3. Because we have been raised with Christ, we have a new hope!
We have been raised with Christ! His life has become our life! And the life we now have in Him is eternal life. It’s a life of unending perfection, wealth, and glory. In verse 4, Paul promises that, very soon, this future hope will become our present experience. He writes, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Is that your hope? Does that future hope shape your present thoughts, priorities, and decisions? What if you got a letter from Bill Gates today that read, “This is to inform you that I have established a $100 million trust fund in your name. In ten years, the contents of this fund, including all interest earned, will be yours to spend.”Would the knowledge that you were going to be incredibly wealthy tomorrow change the way you live today? Would you plan for that day? Would thoughts of that day occupy your mind? Would you find a new appreciation for Bill Gates? Would you find yourself wanting to please him? I would.
But think: aren’t the eternal riches of Christ infinitely greater than anything Bill Gates might promise? And shouldn’t God’s promise of future glory cause us to “set our hearts and minds on things above”?
Yes, we celebrate the Christ’s resurrection today. But, by God’s grace, we celebrate more – we celebrate our own resurrection too. When Jesus burst out of that tomb, you burst out with Him – and so did I. Because we have been raised with Christ we have a new life, we have a new home, and we have a new hope. But Paul makes it clear – in Christ we receive none of those things alone.
4. Because we have been raised with Christ, we have a new family.
In verses 11-14, Paul makes it clear, this new life we live in Christ is a life we live together. Together we have been raised with Christ. Together we have been loved by one Father. Together we have become one family. In Christ we are called to reflect God’s “family values.” “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all…Bear with each other and forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
You have been raised with Christ. Celebrate Easter! Celebrate your new life, your new home, your new hope, and your new family!