The third chapter of Colossians is a story. It is not just any story however; it is our story, the story of all of those who have come to Christ as Lord and as Savior. But it is not only a story of the past, but of our present and of our future. When Paul begins this chapter he has one thing in mind: Baptism. Since (or if then) you have been raised with Christ is not some ethereal reality or some “idea”. It is the very act of being buried and raised with Christ in his resurrection. It is the very act of baptism. This is the marker, the point that distinctly separates Christians from those who are not. Have we passed through the waters? If so, we have been buried and resurrected with Jesus. Now note that Paul doesn’t use this kind of language to say, “you’re finished with the life of faith, well done!” No, he immediately calls us to the future story of our lives, lives in Christ. Seek what is above. Find yourself hidden with Christ in God who has ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven.
Once again, this seems like some ethereal reality, some “tapped- into- other- world”, but it is not. It is a very real and tangible part of our story. Because, whether we realize it or not, our story must continue in Christ. In other words, we must live into our baptism. See what Paul says next? He gives us a list of those things which “must be put to death”. Or better yet, those things which must continually be baptized. We can’t come to the waters of baptism, identify with Him in his death and resurrection, then be raised up only to live lives that are not baptized, not holy. Paul says that immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, greed, anger, fury, malice, slander, obscene language and lying are all things which must be buried. However, something is raised when those are put to death. Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Forgiveness. These are the fruits of a resurrected life. This is what it means to be raised with Christ.
But above all of these we are to put on Love. It is love, God’s love that moved towards us in Christ. For which the story began in the very beginning. My Story . Your story. Our Story. God has called us to live baptized lives. Our lives are to be buried with him in his death, where all of those things which are not of Him find their grave. Then we are to be raised with Him in newness of life, full of the virtuous life, the full life.
I started a little practice a while ago. It is easy to forget what we are actually called to at times. Life has a way of taking our attention off of the important things, the big things, even the main thing. I started reminding myself of my baptism vows. It reminded me of the life I was called to live in Christ.
Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers? I will, with God’s help. Will you persevere in resisting evil, and , whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? I will, with God’s help. Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? I will, with God’s help. Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will, with God’s help. Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God’s help.
-Father Aaron Wright