I don’t have a bucket list — a list of things I want to do or accomplish before I die. Though not necessarily wrong, it would not be helpful to me. First, I might be disturbed to know how many are eager to help me complete it. Second (and more significant), it might become a short-sighted distraction. God wants me to live with a resurrection mindset.
If then 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 appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.Colossians 3:1-4
A Status Update
I have experienced some significant changes in my life. I was once in the military; now I am a civilian. I was single, but now I am married. You cannot be sort of in the military or kind of married. Uncle Sam does not recognize the former, and no spouse would tolerate the latter. In other places Paul used military and marriage imagery to describe the Christian, but here he chose a more striking image.
Paul speaks of the ultimate change in the believer’s status — we died and were raised to life! Like those other examples, you cannot be sort of dead or kind of alive. Furthermore, we have not been resuscitated. No, we died and were resurrected! Hear me out before you rush to sign that book deal. I am not talking about physical resurrection (not yet).
Paul writes of our status by virtue of our union with Christ by faith. God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). As he lived a life of perfect obedience, we were in him (Rom. 5:19). As he hung on the cross bearing the wrath of God, the believer was in him (Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 2:24). When he was placed in the borrowed tomb, we were in him. After three days, the demands of justice having been fully satisfied, we were raised with him on that blessed Easter morning (Eph. 2:4-5).
Now Jesus Christ is reunited with the Father in heaven, and we are in him. We share in his inheritance and he prepares a place for us (John 14:3; Eph. 1:3; 1:11; 2:6). Not only is this world not our home, but our old life is not our life anymore. Paul says our life is hidden.
We hide things to keep them safe. Talk about redundant security: “Your life is hidden with Christ in God” (v. 3)! This vault is infinite power wrapped in omnipotence! “No hellish burglar can break that combination” (A. T. Robertson).
We hide valuables with the intention of accessing them or revealing them at the proper time. We do that with birthday or Christmas presents. A will, in a sense, is a valuable that we keep secure in order to reveal it after the death of the one who made it. Paul says that our resurrection life is like that.
The full glory of our resurrected life is kept secure in heaven to be revealed at the coming of Christ. It belongs to us now, and we will possess it when Jesus returns for us. In another place Paul says we await a “spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44). When we read spiritual we should not think etherial but glorious and powerful. Elaborating further, Paul tells us we shall “bear the image of the man of heaven” (i.e. Christ; 1 Cor. 15:49; cf. 1 John 3:2-3).
Hope and Holiness
As we await Christ’s return, our lives should reflect a resurrection mindset. Our desires, plans, work, conflicts, and celebrations should all be done as exiles longing for and expecting that glorious day of reunion with our Savior in our eternal home. That is why, in the Colossians passage, Paul proceeds from our resurrection status to commands for holy living. We need to “put off” old, sinful patterns of this world and “put on” ones that are in keeping with our new lives in Christ (Col. 3:5-17).
So how can we do that? When we believed the gospel, God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us as a guarantee of our future glory (Eph. 1:13-14). That is resurrection power: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwell in you” (Romans 8:11).
We sin because often we put our hope in what is passing away instead of what awaits us. However, a resurrection mindset leads to holiness. We can have that mindset because God has made known to us what Paul called a glorious mystery “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
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