“If then you have been raised with Christ…” Col 3:1a
Powerful. Reflective. Full of implication to the Believer. Here is what I observe asking the guy in the mirror: Do I habitually ignore what follows?
Did you ever notice how many directive verbs Paul uses in his Letters? I think he uses a lot. I also think that I habitually run right over them, glossing over the directive to see descriptions or other words. Paul writes very well-I would say “cool.” I like reading Paul-relatively short, sweet, but also hard and blunt. His vocational training a long time ago was as a lawyer. There is an example to imitate in that Paul is blunt and gentle at the same time-but to be sure he isn’t wishy washy.
I look at Colossians 3 and I see significant directives. In fact, if I restructured this chapter to an outline format I would certainly highlight and exhibit certain values by doing so. I have transferred to an electronic device for my Bible but past I would circle the action oriented directive verbs.
The whole of this chapter is predicated on the above statement: “If then you have been raised with Christ…” and then Paul follows with certain and specific conclusions: Seek the things that are above…; Set your minds…; Put to death therefore…; You must put them all away…; Put off the old self… (an ongoing work that looks assumed by Paul “if I have been raised with Christ”, I guess..); Put on the new self…; Put on then…; Let the peace of Christ rule in (my) heart…; Be thankful…; Let the Word of Christ dwell in (me) richly…And (finally) whatever I do…do everything in the Name…
Verbs and verb derivatives; declarative and directional; implied or directly stated responsibility to attain or strive for-I have to pay attention.
I want to be a serious disciple. If this is my stated intention, then I must pay attention to what God is saying in His Word. One turn of phrase to look at and pay attention to are the “If/Then” statements: “If I am to do (something), then (this) is what follows…as active participation with the Holy Spirit in my Human Responsibility towards Sanctification—basically (without the flowery theological language) understand and acknowledge that I have to get to work. Outside works (Preach the Gospel, Feed the poor, Serve one another, Practice Hospitality) are easily recognized as obtainable works-I can easily “do” these things (in comparison). The harder “works” to engage in are certainly listed in Col 3—works that engage us to “put to death the old man” and “put on the new man.” While this happened (in a sense) at conversion (justification) the plain implication of the Scriptures is that this Work isn’t completed (sanctification-wise) and that I have to roll up my sleeves daily…
Lord God: I want to be a serious disciple. It is all I have ever wanted from the beginning. 45 years later this is still my stated desire, my longing cry. I have read Col 3 again and again over these years; I have put into place plans, actions, reflexes to engage. I have intently paid attention to some of these directives while in parallel with others. Am I despondent that I haven’t arrived? No, not at all, because I know that the journey, the process is inevitable as I daily mortify the old man. If I improve in my conduct and sanctification before You 1 degree at the end of my life I will know that You are pleased with my faithfulness. You, O Lord, are merciful and gracious towards me. I am and will always be grateful. AMEN.