Colossians 3:5-17

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.

But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:5-17

A couple of years ago Kelley and I joined a class at church that wanted to teach us to be better stewards of our bodies. It involved a weekly Bible study, more regular exercise, and watching (and recording) what we ate. It was truly a holistic experience led by the kindest and most encouraging teacher in our congregation. When we did what we were supposed to do we actually lost a few pounds and felt much better about ourselves.

I’m thinking today about that experience because I remember, in our first gathering, we took our “BEFORE” pictures. The idea, of course, was that at the end of the class we would take our “AFTER” pictures and feel great about how well we did. Let’s just say that it didn’t quite work out that way. We petered out before it was through. We somehow forget to take our “AFTER” pictures.

Truthfully, we slid back into our old ways and didn’t want the shame of the “AFTER” picture to remind us. I pretty much have forgotten about that (pushed it forcibly out of my mind) until Paul reminded me of it this morning.

Paul, and frankly most of the earliest Christians – and plenty of modern Christians as well – clearly could remember his “before Jesus” days, his “after I met Jesus” days, and how different they were. Many of the people I serve tell me that they don’t have memories like that. They were born, baptized, raised in the church, maybe strayed a bit in college, but came back home and have been active Christians since. They would tell you that they don’t remember a time in their lives “before Jesus.”

I, on the other hand, clearly remember when God and the church had little to nothing to do with my life or the life of my family. And I clearly remember when God suddenly and dramatically turned my life around on a dime.

And yet as I remember that today, aware of how I have slipped and slid and backslid and forward jumped and fallen off and climbed back on the Christian journey that God keeps me on, none of that matters. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow might come. All I really have is NOW.

So it really doesn’t matter how we came to where we are now, the Christian faith will always be a one day at a time walk. We will always have things we are working on, things we are letting go of, things that refuse to let go of us, new experiences that the Holy Spirit needs to use to help us become the “us” that God has in mind. Along the way we catch glimpses of the mystery that we are both “already there” and that we will “never get there” at the same time.

Along the way that journey is much more fruitful, scenic, and rewarding if we share it with others. If we sing together. If we read the words that God has given us. And if we realize that the road and the destination are both called “Love.”

Let us pray: God, thank you for calling us to join you and to be mindful of your presence as we make our way down this road of life. Thank you for holding us close, for helping us let go, and for loving us though we fail. Thank you for the church, this laboratory of love, where we can learn the tools that help us make it through. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Colossians 3:5-17”

  1. WJS Says:

    to glimpse already and never at the same time, that describes it!

  2. Steve K Says:

    26 years ago to the day you posted this, the love of my life and I were married. A portion of these verses were used during our ceremony for the homily. While our pastor took a different angle, I felt that you summed up perfectly what I was feeling when you stated “Along the way that journey is much more fruitful, scenic, and rewarding if we share it with others. If we sing together. If we read the words that God has given us. And if we realize that the road and the destination are both called “Love.”” Thank you!

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