“If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4).
Walking in the likeness of Christ on this earth stops being some vague, mysterious idea when this scripture becomes real to us. I like the translation of verse three in the Living Bible. Although the Living Bible is actually a paraphrase, and, in some places, lacks accuracy, on this verse it hits the bull’s-eye in translating God’s intention in these words. Verse three in that translation says, “You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does.”
Brothers and sisters, when we move into complete surrender to Jesus, we truly recognize that we have been crucified with Him – we have died to this world, to sin, to the pull of our flesh. And we have been raised, but not given our own life to live. Rather, we are raised with Jesus in us – prepared to live out His life, His plans, His purposes, His goals through our bodies and minds. According to this passage of scripture, our own life is hidden away safely in God. When Jesus comes again in glory, then our life will be released to us so that we may live it out in glory and perfection with Him. But, in the meantime, we are not our own.
Let me use “Joe Christian” as an example. Joe Christian is dead and his life is no longer to be lived out on earth, but rather is tucked away in God for the time being. The only life he is to live here is Jesus’ life. Joe no longer has rights and privileges for himself personally. Rather, Jesus in him has all the rights and privileges. Joe no longer calls the shots in making plans or determining how he will act or react in any situation. Jesus does. Joe no longer has the say in how he spends his time, his energy, or his money, because he isn’t living out Joe’s life anymore. Jesus is using Joe’s body, mind, and heart – and his material goods — to continue to live out His life here on earth, so that His love, His truth, and His power can be offered to all the people Joe comes into contact with.
Needless to say, Joe Christian no longer has a right to indulge in offended feelings, hurt feelings, self-defense, self-indulgence, or self-promotion. Jesus has all the rights, and if He does not have His feelings hurt, Joe certainly can’t express hurt feelings, because he is dead, and his new life is tucked away in God and cannot be reached with offense. If Jesus doesn’t give in to the temptation to indulge the flesh instead of spending time in the Word and prayer, Joe certainly can’t feel free to do so, because he isn’t the one living now.
Do you see how it works, church? Does it seem far-fetched? Remember that the Lord calls us to renew our minds through His Word so that we no longer perceive and judge things according to the natural ways of the world. Does it seem impossible? Well, for the human part of us, it surely is impossible. But we do not have to accomplish this feat. Jesus has all the ability to live out His life through us. All we have to do is get so absorbed with and full of His Word that we become pliable enough to be used.
When we truly see that it is to be Jesus living His life His way through us – that we’re just the carriers, so to speak – then our perspective of life will change dramatically. We will see life from an eternal perspective. Our goals will become eternal goals. We will begin to judge everything we do and say on its ability to accomplish something lasting for God’s kingdom.