Psalms 145:2-3, 10-11, 12-13
Since you have been raised up in company with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms where Christ is seated at God's right hand. Be intent on things above rather than on things of earth. After all, you have died! Your life is hidden now with Christ in God. When Christ our life appears, then you shall appear with him in glory.
Put to death whatever in your nature is rooted in
earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and that
lust which is idolatry. …You must put that aside now: all the
anger and quick temper, the malice, the insults, the foul language.
Stop lying to one another. What you have done is put aside your old
self with its past deeds and put on a new man, one who grows in knowledge
as he is formed anew in the image of his Creator. There is no Greek
or Jew here, circumcised or uncircumcised, foreigner, Scythian, slave,
or freeman. Rather Christ is everything in all of you.
Reading this letter of Paul to the Colossians can readily serve as an “examination of conscience” for us. What Paul’s words illuminate are behaviors that deny the truth of who we are in Christ. The straightforwardness of his exhortation can challenge us as we take the time today to ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we have acted out of this false self.
At the same time, I would invite you to reread this letter, this time asking, “What does it mean that my life is hidden now with Christ in God?”
I think we most often view this reading as an over-spiritualization of our daily life. This can often translate into thinking that I should always have “holy” or pious thoughts. All too often, the temptation is to blame ourselves for being concerned about family, friends, work, finances and all that preoccupies our daily activity. In order to “be intent on things above,” I must deny the many details that occupy my day. The truth, however, is just the opposite, if we really understand what it means to be “hidden now with Christ.”
If I ask you, “Who are you?” What would you say? I would invite you, if you care to, to read Mark 1:7-11, where Jesus comes to be baptized by John the Baptist at the Jordan River. Remember that in this scene the Father says directly to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son. On you my favor rests.” I invite you and myself to meditate with this passage today, to taste the truth of our identity as beloved daughters and sons of the Father. What does this mean for you and me? What does this say about who you really are, beyond what you do or accomplish? What this truth reveals is the depth of our identity in Christ. Here we can know ourselves not through mere functionalism but through deep relationship with God. Here you may come to know yourself more clearly as mother, father, spouse, doctor-to-be, one who serves in hiddenness, or one who shares Christ’s suffering through the difficulties of aging. There is a difference of functioning as a mother, spouse, doctor-to-be, etc., and of knowing that God has made me to love in this way. By my living out faithfully the responsibilities of my identity in Christ, I serve Him and those I love, and I become most completely all that I can be.
The key is how you and I live our daily lives: alone or with Jesus. I can function just fine by myself; I can even be effective in my work and relationships. However, it makes all the difference in the world if I permit myself to be with and to act with Jesus. It makes a difference if I ask God daily to lead me, to guide me, to be in the many details of my day and to continue to form my heart into His heart that I might love as He loves. The “hiddenness” that Paul speaks of is the tremendous intimate relationship of love that God calls us into: namely to know ourselves in Him. As we ask Him to guide us, and as we rely on His grace and His providential love guiding us, there is no dichotomy between our daily lives and setting our hearts on things above.
I invite you to let yourself be in the Baptism scene in place of Jesus and to listen to what the Father says to you about your true identity. Let this be a place where you can share all that comforts you and all that causes you pain. Ask Him to be in the midst of every detail and action. And ask Him to continue to form your heart into His own heart. Here you and I will know that “Christ is everything.”
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