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Colossians: 06 New Community

Updated: Nov 28, 2022



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The first time I boarded a plane was for a flight to Chicago, Illinois. It was November, and I was headed for basic training in Great Lakes. We were told not to pack anything and to only come with our orders and the clothes we wore.


As I recall, it seemed like it was early morning, 3-4, when we stepped off the shuttle bus as the cold air from the Great Lakes, and a few drill instructors greeted us. Then, we were lined up and taken into a room where an empty box awaited us. Standing in front of the box, we were told to take everything off and place it in the box. If it came from home, it had to go back! Nothing was to be in our possession that came from home.

We would take on a new identity in just a few short months. We were no longer identified as 75 different people from different backgrounds and from all over the Country. Instead, we were to become one unit, one team, one group that survived together. We were even given matching haircuts.


As we move through Colossians, in chapter 3, Paul teaches that we "have been raised with Christ" (3:1). As those raised with Christ, he continues:


Colossians 3:2–3 (NIV)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.


As those who have died with Christ and been raised with Him, we have a new identity. Our identity is not in the past or things opposed to God. Therefore, as those with a new identity, our character and lives should reflect the new identity of Christ. In Christ, we are a renewed community and a new body, our identity is now in Him.


Packing Up The Box


Paul identifies practices of our old identity that need to be shipped away in the box. Practices that are not consistent with our new character and who we are in Christ.


Colossians 3:5–10 (NIV)

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.


It's important to remember when we read such lists these are not exclusive or exhaustive. Paul, in other places, provides different lists. The lists are important. But they are here to give us an understanding of things inconsistent with our new identity. For example, as we look at the list here in Colossians 3, we can see two types of conduct or practices that are to be packed away in the box.


Verses (5-7) deal with sexual immorality: impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Each of these, including greed, to desire something or someone who is not rightfully yours through marriage, describes sexual sins. These types of practices are not consistent with our new identity. Now, these are to be put away since we are in Christ.


Just as important as sexual immorality is our language and our speech. How we talk to one another and how we treat each other.


Colossians 3:8–10 (NIV)

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.


Nothing can tear a community apart quicker than sexual misconduct and our language towards one another. Paul desires the church at Colossae and for us today to grow as a community of Christ. Holding on to our old identity will not be healthy and is inconsistent with who we are in Christ. All such things of our past identity are to be packed in a box and shipped away as we grow into a new community.


Growing As A New Community


In basic training, we were all given the same low-maintenance haircut. In addition, we were given the same new clothes known as the "uniform of the day." Different people, with different backgrounds, and different experiences, but if we were going to survive, it would be together as one team. Our drill instructors knew we would face future challenges that we could not do alone. If they were to be overcome, they would be overcome together.


Paul is driving to this point. Our new identity is a new community. A community that is one in Christ and one we need for survival as we journey through the world's wilderness.


Colossians 3:9–17 (NIV)

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. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Put on the "new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." (3:10). Here we are one community, one body, that seeks to build each other up in the Lord.


Bridging The Context


Here and as we move forward in Colossians, Paul is very practical. What does a new identity in Christ look like? What does it mean to be a new community amidst a fallen world?


There are patterns, habits, and attitudes that are inconsistent with our new identity in Christ. Patterns and practices that are not consistent with building up the community of Christ. To be a healthy community, Paul tells us these things must be packed away and sent off.


As the community of Christ, we are not isolated from one another. God has called us out for His purposes. We are to be a people, a community that reflects His goodness. We will face challenges as we wander through the world's wilderness in hopeful expectation of His return. However, we are intended to meet these challenges as a community. Reflecting who we are in the new identity of Christ.


Questions To Consider


a) How am I actively seeking to encourage my local church community?


b) Are there practices in my life inconsistent with my new identity in Christ that need to be packed up and sent away?



 

end notes:

Unless otherwise noted; Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.TM
 Used by Permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011).

 

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