Colossians 3 was part of my devotions today. I was really moved by it because I think this portion of scripture perfectly describes how we should live our Christian lives. In my years as a Christ-follower, I've noticed that people who proclaim Christ tend to fall into one of the following categories:
A. All law: Don't do this, don't do that, do this, do that. If you don't adhere to the list of do's and do not's how can you call yourself a Christian?!
B. All grace: Its all covered under the blood, so it doesn't matter! I can still sin, not repent and be all good! Jesus died once and for all!
This portion of scripture is encouraging us to incorporate both in our lives. A healthy balance. Not compromise, but a moderate mixture of law and grace. Over the past two and a half decades, I have flip flopped between the two extremes. However, throughout the past 5-7 years, the Lord has taught and IS teaching me how to live a more "Colossians 3" life.
My summary of the scripture is this: Live holy lives. Set yourself up as an example. But be full of grace and mercy toward those who haven't arrived at that place in their journey. And then speak the truth in love.
Here's the scripture as paraphrased in The Message (bold emphasis mine):
1-2 So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
9-11 Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Ouch. The Word separates bone and marrow.