Our Life in Christ––A Meditation for Holy Week
For the past 90 days leading up to Easter, I’ve exclusively focused on the book of Colossians during my Bible-reading and prayer time. I chose Colossians because it is, arguably, the most Christ-centered book in the entire Bible, and I wanted to focus my heart and affections on Him. It’s only four chapters long, but it includes 72 references to Christ! Paul clearly wants to ensure that the saints in the church at Colossae understand the preeminence of Christ in everything. However, it’s in his opening remarks that he sets the tone for the letter. After telling his readers he’s heard of their faith in Christ Jesus and the love they have for all the saints, he states why they’re capable of such faith and love: “because of the hope reserved for you in heaven” (Col. 1:5, CSB).
There was something about this hope that caused the Colossians not only to have faith in Christ, but to love the saints. Paul then says that they heard about this hope in the word of truth, the gospel. The Colossians had their hope in what was reserved for them in heaven because they’d heard and believed the good news of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. The hope reserved for us is the resurrected Christ, seated in heaven on the throne. He is everything! As Paul stated, everything that came before Him was just a shadow, but the substance is Christ. He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament laws and prophecy. He is the Passover Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world, and if we are in Christ, then we have not only died with Him, but we have been raised with Him. He has conquered death, and so have we. He lives; therefore, we live. Death no longer has a hold on us. In chapter 2 Paul lays it out:
You were also circumcised in him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of Christ, when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. (Col. 2:11–14, CSB)
This is the good news! This is the word of truth by which the Colossians have their hope reserved for them in heaven. God has made us alive through Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. The certificate of death was erased and nailed to the cross! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
So how does this truth lead the Colossians to love the saints? How does it lead them to think outwardly towards others? Here’s how: When we place our hope in Him, we care about the things He cares about. We love and seek the things He loves. We no longer live for ourselves or our own glory; we live for Christ and His glory because the only glory we have is in Him. Paul writes:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you 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. (Col. 3:1–4, CSB)
For we have died, and Christ is now our life. What an amazing statement! When we understand this, everything changes. We now can understand how Paul could say his life was of no value to himself. We now can understand what Paul means when he says “to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). Our lives are literally in Christ; the life we live here on earth, we live to Him. This is why the resurrection is so important to the Christian faith. Without it, there is no hope. As Paul put it:
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ—whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. (1 Cor. 15:13–19, CSB)
The Christian faith is not ultimately about this life. We don’t live for this life; this is why we are told to not love the world or the things of the world. It’s why we’re told to not be earthly minded but to set our minds on the things above. When we set our minds and hearts on the things of this world, our affections are pulled away from where they should be: on Christ. Many of the divisions among us happen because we have placed our minds on earthly things. Some of us have made “chasing the bag,” in terms of financial and career success, the focus of our lives and pursuits. Others have made the protection of our rights and comforts the top priority, and some have even made envy, discontentment, and unforgiveness virtues under the banner of “social justice.” What underlines all these things is a self-interest that divides us and hinders us from loving all the saints as the Colossians were commended for doing. As James put it:
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:1–3, CSB)
When we Christians lose sight of the ultimate hope, we risk becoming worldly and carnal. We become, as James says in verse 4, “You adulterous people!” This is not a light matter. James goes on to say that the spirit He made to dwell in us envies intensely. In other words, God is a jealous God, and we are to worship Him only.
When we place other things in our lives above God, they become idols. They, not Christ, become preeminent in our lives.
To guard against this in my own life, for the past 90 days, I’ve taken a sabbatical from social media, TV, and movies. This sabbatical has allowed me to refocus on what truly matters: Christ and His glory. The things I’ve abstained from are not always bad, but they can numb us to sin and distract us from our true calling. They distract us from renewing our minds with the knowledge of His will. They distract us from devoting ourselves to prayer and from making the most of our time because as Paul tells us, “the days are evil.”
As we celebrate the Resurrection this Easter, my prayer is that we will have a renewed purpose of not simply living for ourselves and this life, but to live for the life to come, because Christ is our life. When He returns in glory, we will be glorified in Him. So this Easter, let us remember the hope reserved for us in heaven, and let that truth shape the focus of our lives and pursuits to align with the word of truth, the gospel.
About the author: Kevin was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He and his wife Shulonda have been married for 15 years and have three beautiful daughters, Karis, Kinley, and Khloe. Kevin was raised in a Christian household and in the African American church tradition, and from 2017 until relocating in 2021 he served as a lay elder at a Reformed Southern Baptist church in Augusta, Georgia. He also has had a long career as an intelligence analyst and holds a bachelor's degree in Middle Eastern Studies.