The “Daily Devos” are authored by my colleague and friend, Phil Brandt, and may contain edits and adaptations by yours truly.
Thursday of Easter – Colossians 3:1-13
Note on Verse 1 and following: Paul uses one of his “ifs” here. This is an “ if” based on evidence. Paul is making an argument based on the fact that you have been raised with Christ. Baptism has done its work (see Romans 6).
1 If then 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 life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Now that Baptism has done its resurrecting, consider what that means with Paul today. He exhorts you to seek the things that are “above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” What do you suppose those things are? It could mean we are to have our heads in the clouds, but that would be missing Paul’s point. Look to verses 12-13 to see where we encounter the Lord enthroned and where we meet the one in whom our lives are hidden. The things above are not other-worldly in the sense that they are floating on a cloud somewhere. The things above are right in front of us. They are the new life which flows out of those baptismal waters. Jesus rose from the dead and ate with his disciples because he loves this creation. The “things above” are acts of compassionate hearts, kindnesses done with humility, meekness, and patience.
Has anyone else found the “things above” challenging at times? Being isolated with family can be great but sometimes not so much. Jesus, risen from the dead, gives you eyes to see the world in a heavenly light and bring heaven’s peace, joy, forgiveness, and love to bear upon your home right now.
Sin is potent in its ability to distort and deform our relationships with those who are closest to us. And the markers of the “things above” are not just challenging among those we care about family, friends, brothers and sisters in our church community. The “things above” are challenging at the grocery store, in the park, at the home improvement store, the pharmacy, the drive-thru, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, texting and other forms of social media. It is difficult to “put the best construction on everything” and to “trust” our neighbor especially when we really don’t “trust” our neighbor. Social media’s default interaction is often combative and confrontational; it becomes a place to call people out and shame them. Confession: Do you know how many people in the last month I’ve hit the “snooze for 30 days” option on Facebook? More Confession: Have you ever felt the following, “I’ve never sent/received a text that couldn’t be misinterpreted.” Sure there are the sweet and humorous memes, stories, opinions, etc.; but be careful who you send them too. What one person finds humorous or insightful another person receives as a judgment. Humor is, after all, based in experience and not all people interpret their particular experience as humorous. Every day, with COVID19, we receive new information dumps and still there is so much we don’t know. Even “the authorities” can’t speak with one voice because there is new evidence every day, so much that is unknown, and no clear scientific consensus on how to interpret the data and information or which way to proceed.
Yes, we do the best we can. But, Paul’s “if” based-on-evidence-description of us is, we do it as cross and resurrection people. Easter means that the one in whom our lives are now found is stronger. Put on that compassionate heart. Be kind, gentle, humble, meek, and patient with the people in your home and as you encounter others at the grocery store, in the park, at the home improvement store, the pharmacy, the drive-thru, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, texting and other forms of social media. You will find that Jesus is there to help you do that. It will be good. Live out Easter’s promise today.