Hello and welcome to Monday’s foundations podcast. I’m James and part of the team at STC. Happy half term to teachers and parents out there. We hope you have a great week! This week we are looking at the closing chapters of the book of Colossians. Today and tomorrow’s podcast will feel like two sides of the same coin. As we consider today (Monday) laying down the old life (former ways) and tomorrow we consider embracing the new life (the resurrection life) enabled by Jesus!
The picture used in the Bible passages we have been given is like a wardrobe upgrade. Get rid of the old outfit and begin to clothe yourself in the virtues of goodness and the fruits of following Jesus. I’ll explain more in a moment.
Let’s first talk about clothes. I’m no fashion expert and I have made many mistakes in my time. But I think it is fair to say that even though clothes don’t define a person… throughout time, history and even today they are used as a non-verbal communication to the word of the kind of person you are! Think for a moment of ANY American teen high school drama, such as the Breakfast Club or High School Musical and you will quickly see that clothes can be used to express social status, economic status, or if you are a sports star versus athletes. Even the decision to dress simply and plainly is an expression of your values to the world around you.
I can think back to when I first started University. I had never had a bursary paid into my bank in one lump sum before. I certainly hadn’t been taught the necessary money management skills required to make the most of that injection of cash. I blew the lot on two clothing brands, Jack Wills and Abercrombie, within the first few days. Parcel after parcel arrived and I quickly began to look like a walking advertisement for the brand. I look back at photos from 10 years ago and I think what a waste! Perhaps I am the only one here who cringes slightly at photos from 10 years ago. I’m sure you all have always looked great.
That said, You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.
These words are a challenge from Paul to live as the new humans we will one day become. To remove… actually the words are stronger than that… to put to death… distorted sexuality and destructive speech and to (v10) have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. More of what that looks like tomorrow… but for today I will say this…
Putting on our new self – looking like and becoming like Jesus – is not an invitation to prioritise how we look over the inner workings of our hearts. That is not the Christian gospel. Jesus had a lot to say about people who worked on the outside only and neglected their internal world. Remember, he once called the religious leaders white-washed-tombs. Likewise, Paul knows that the way to change the world and to overcome the pressures of the day was not to act more pure, do more good and swear a lot less. He knows, like you and me, that genuine and lasting change would come through inward transformation of individual hearts. Jesus, with the gift of the Spirit, provides the power to transform our internal world, to give us a new heart. When that transformation comes, we embrace that new life, the new clothes begin to fit a little better than any of our old clothes ever did.
Today’s Bible story goes on to finish with some beautiful lines about what God’s new family looks like: in this family, “… there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” While we do not stop being Ethiopian or Korean or French or British or European when Christ saves us, these ethnic badges no longer function to identify who we ultimately are. Instead, Jesus defines us. We are in the Jesus club and he is wonderfully working on our hearts.
Let me finish with one of my favourite Proverbs at the moment. Proverbs 4:23 – “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do follows from it.”
God thank you for half-term. Would it be lots of fun to those who are enjoying a new rhythm this week. I pray we meet you in the pages of the Bible. I pray you do a wonderful work in our hearts. Help us to let go of the old and embrace the new things you are doing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
BIBLE READING: Colossians 3:5-11
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.