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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Colossians 3:1–11           

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 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. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.

But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (NRSV)

Rarely do such heights and such depths appear so close together in scripture.

“There is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!”

And . . . fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language.

The New Testament is indecipherable without some experience of “new life” with which to interpret passages like this. Here’s one of mine: my parents started taking me and my brother to church when I was in the third grade, and it didn’t take but a few months for a bunch of family nonsense to stop and a few bits of piety to replace them. Was life suddenly idyllic? No. Did all the family’s problems dissipate, like the preacher promised would happen if only we gave faithfully enough? Certainly not.

But I tell you it was new life.

This is true for everyone who experiences the grace of the gospel, including all of those pious first-century Jewish men and women in Judea who heard it first. “New life” appears in particularly stark relief for all of those non-Jews who heard the preaching of a once-zealous Pharisee named Paul in cities like Colossae and Corinth. For them, conversion to the way of Jesus was radical—separation from the social circles and habits that had shaped them for the sake of a joy and a purpose initiated in their life by a God they had never pondered.

So it is for us, too. Where has new life found you?

God of new life, by your mercy we are freed from the dictates of evil desire, greed, and so much else that once held us. Constantly convert us from these things to the unity of a life in you, united with your people. Through Christ, our All-in-All. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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