Today’s Thought: What does it mean to have new life in Christ?
And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
I’ve hit the reset button many times in my life: when I got married, when I had my first child (and again, when we added a second), when family members passed, when I took new jobs, and on and on and on. Old routines have gone out the window overnight to make room for new ones, not always smoothly. But major life changes practically demand new habits, like earlier wake-up times, dropping off and picking up kids from activities, easier (and faster!) meals… So, what changed when I became a Christian?
While the Apostle Paul was in a Roman prison, he got word that the church in Colossae was struggling with that very question. Having lived under law-based faiths (or no faith at all) in the past, the Colossians weren’t really sure how to live-out being a Christian. To make matters worse, they had started weaving other faith practices into Christianity, which Paul describes as “empty deceit” and “human tradition.”
The Colossians were unsure what Jesus’ message of salvation by faith alone meant, so they went searching for regulations to add and enforce. The old way was familiar, and felt more comfortable. When in doubt, they grabbed on to what they knew—even if it wasn’t the right thing.
Paul didn’t waste any time setting things straight, and he didn’t mince words:
So if you have been raised with Christ… set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (3:1-3). He goes on to give them examples of things they should avoid (anger, wrath, malice, slander), as well as things they should seek out (kindness, humility, patience); but at no time does Paul hand them a list of specific laws like they’ve had in the past.
Most importantly, Paul reminds them of the change that comes naturally as their faith in Christ deepens:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (3:15-17).
So. What changed when I accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God? What changed when I finally understood that he freely set aside my pitiful record by nailing it to the cross? My heart. That’s what changed. It isn’t quantifiable, and there aren’t any checkboxes to mark. I can’t show you a certificate of completion because God is showing me more and more every day the ways in which I can feel and share Christian love. God doesn’t ask me to get everything perfect. He just asks me to try… from the depths of my heart, filled with the Holy Spirit, and guided by my Lord Jesus.
Wednesday’s Wisdom: “In using all means, seek God alone. In and through every outward thing, look only to the power of His Spirit, and the merits of His Son. Beware you do not get stuck in the work itself; if you do, it is all lost labor. Nothing short of God can satisfy your soul.” (John Wesley, 18th Century cleric, theologian, and evangelist)