The Christian life set forth in Colossians 3 is pretty much the same as what Jesus described in the sermon on the mount. The kingdom is available, here and now. Seek first His kingdom. As the writer of Hebrews says, “He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” The Christian life is not about a set of rules, nor is righteousness about who can obey the most rules. And, I would add, extreme Christianity is not about being a zealot, or a dogmatic fundamentalist. It certainly is not about forcing one’s views on others and absolutely not about physically assaulting someone or some nation because they do not believe our “gospel.” The good news is the kingdom is available to all, and it is found in seeking and finding Him. And, since the way you get in is the way you go on, the Christian life is lived in seeking and finding Him, and thereby knowing Him, His love, and His faithfulness more and more as an ever-present reality. There are standards of what is right and what is wrong, of Christ-likeness and of sin. Meeting the standard of holiness or righteousness is accomplished through seeking Him first. As Paul said in Colossians 3:1-2 seeking those things that are above, setting your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. What follows is what that looks like lived out day-to-day.
After telling us a few things to consider our bodies as dead to (vs.5), he then, in verses 8 & 9 adds a few things to put off like old clothes. But now you also put these all aside: anger [flashes of anger that erupt and lash out], wrath [brooding and seething within on an on-going basis], malice [malicious, evil acts of any kind], slander [(NASB), actually is blasphemy; the Greek word is not necessarily limited to being against God, though it’s typically understood that way; but means evil or profane words, insulting talk, blasphemy, slander], abusive speech from your mouth [literally disgraceful or obscene speech; remember when some words were considered disgraceful and were not used in public in general, specifically not in the presence of women, or anyone else whom you respected?]. Do not lie to one another, since you have laid aside the old man with its practices.
Verse 10: and have put on the new, who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him. The word “new” conveys the meaning in Greek of having never existed before – brand new. Yet it is being “renewed” – a word that means it’s been around and needs to be refurbished. What a beautiful picture of the Christian life. The moment you receive Him you are made brand new. But from that moment on, Christ is constantly renewing and refurbishing that new man, growing your inner self through every experience of life to help you to a true knowledge of Him and fashion you in the image of Him who created that new self within you. (This also speaks to the seed illustration of dying to be a seed in order to become what God wants us to be and bear fruit for the kingdom).
Verse 11: in which there is no Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all and in all. We are equal in Him. To say there is no difference or distinction between these polar opposites acknowledges that they are opposites. The text actually just throws out the distinctions. There is no Greek or Jew…. In addition, the Bible doesn’t address the issue of race, because we are all the human race. The closest it gets to race is dealing with Jew versus Gentile, or national differences. Our concept of race based on skin color and other physical characteristics is a man-made, social construct with no basis in God’s word, or reality. There will be no real solution to the race problem in America, or any other method we have of distinguishing ourselves until we see each other as all the same before God, all the same in our relationship to Christ, and, if we are “in Christ” that is the only thing we should be seeing as we look at one another.
Verses 12-15: So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved [not just a pleasant way to address his readers, but an actual description of who they are in Christ—you are holy, and loved by God, God’s beloved], put on [like new clothes] a heart of compassion [mercy], kindness [beneficence that doesn’t seek any thanks or repayment, it just is], humility [lowliness, not putting yourself above others, no inflated sense of your own self-worth], gentleness [enduring situations with an even temper], patience [literally long-suffering, or going a long time before getting angry]; bearing with one another [putting up with], forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone [not only if someone wrongs you, but if you have a complaint against them, an “occasion for blame”; in other words, if you just disagree with them or don’t like the way they do things – the way the preacher preaches, or combs his hair, or the way they take up the offering, or the color carpet they chose for the church, or the order of service, or the song selection, or the way she walks, or any other situation where you might tend to find fault – your only option here is “forgive”], just as the Lord forgave you, you do also. [And, as if that is not enough] let the peace of Christ rule [be the umpire or referee] in your heart [in your heart], to which [peace] you were called in one body [yes, peace, in the body of Christ], and be thankful [emphasis mine, since this is a blog about extreme gratitude and thankfulness].
Let the word [logos] of Christ
- HE is the word, the logos of God, spoken to us.
- The word or logos—which means “message,” the thought that is communicated through words—of Christ: the message He preached was the immediacy and availability of the Kingdom of Heaven in the lives of men who would follow Him.
- The word of (about) Christ—includes His teachings, but especially His reconciliation of man to God through His death, burial, and resurrection—His broken body that opened the way into the Holy presence of the living God, “where Christ is” (vs.1).
Verses 16-17: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
That is Christian extremism. It is a life that looks like Colossians 3:1-17. It’s a life based on seeking Him, seeking spiritual things, Heavenly things; a life that revolves around His constant renewal of the new creation you became in Him; and a life neatly tied up with thankfulness through Christ to God the Father.