First Mennonite Church
October 23, 2022
Living the Resurrected Life
Text: Colossians 1:1-5, 9-13; 2:6-14; 3:1-4
Just once again to refresh our memory: regardless of how beautiful, meaningful, or theologically laden a passage might be, it can be better understood in light of the whole book, especially when the passage is from one of the NT letters. That is why biblical interpreters emphasize the importance of taking into consideration the context of every passage we study. So, let us say, I select a passage in one of Paul’s letters, I must remember that such passage is only part of the whole idea or message Paul was communicating through the letter.
That will be clear this morning because our passage comes from parts of three chapters in the letter to the Colossians.
Reading the Passages
If we were to read the letters of the apostle Paul, carefully, we would find that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of his message. Every command, every word of advice, every moral and ethical corrective he gave to the churches Paul wrote to, flow from his understanding on the implications of Jesus’ resurrection for the believer. Paul could not be any clearer about this truth as he declares in 1Corinthians 15. In verse 13 and following Paul writes:
13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.
But, for Paul, the importance and the implications of Jesus’ resurrection for the believer—for you and me, is not just the belief of an abstract theological concept, nor is it just the embrace of the correct doctrinal confession, nor is it simply the acceptance of a distant event in history. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation for every claim we have about our faith and is the power that shapes and defines the Christian life. PERIOD. Do not take it from me. Let us hear it from Paul to the Colossians.
Paul reminded the Colossian church that the message about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, which he calls “the word of truth– the gospel that has given them meaning, freedom, hope, and which has radically transformed their lives. Prior to receiving the message of the Gospel, the Colossians were pagans who had no hope, who lived in constant fear of spiritual forces people believed controlled their lives and destinies. In order to find security and guidance, the Colossians were forced to engage in the worship of angels to protect them. They needed to abide by strict dietary rules and regulations in order to have a sense of purity. But Paul tells them that although the latter practices have resemblance of piety, nonetheless, they are unnecessary burdens if these are intended to help them live the Christian life.
Paul begins his letter by telling the Colossians of his constant prayers of thanksgiving to God because of them. Paul tells the Colossians that their faith in Jesus is already producing its first fruit— “love for all the saints.” And that love, according to Paul, is prompted by the hope they have in heaven (v.5). Thus, he assures them of his continued prayer for spiritual wisdom, “so that [they] may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as [they] bear fruit in every good work and as [they] grow in the knowledge of God.
Therefore, in chapter two, verse six, Paul urges his fellow brothers and sister: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Living the resurrection life flows from our relationship—our union with Christ. That began the day we entrusted our life into the hands of the Lord. That was symbolized in our baptism, as Paul describes when he writes: “You were buried with him in baptism [and] were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” We too have been raised through faith. And as Paul again writes to the Romans: “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (6:4).
Living the resurrected life in Christ, or what Paul refers to “walking in newness of life,” is evidence that the same power God demonstrated in raising Jesus from the dead, is now being demonstrated in the believer’s life. Paul gives two almost identical commands on how to pursue the resurrected life. “Seek, therefore, the things that are from above where Christ is seated, and “set you minds on things that are from above and not on those of the earth.”
In Ephesians, Paul says that we have not only been raised with Christ, but that we are also seated with him in heavenly places” (2:6). Our union with Christ, through faith and our baptism, gives us not only a hope of a glorious resurrection, but also empowers us to live that resurrected life in Christ today. The Lord has called us and sent us to live and to give witness of his power. We are to understand that we have been chosen by God unto salvation; we are to be holy, compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient (v. 12). That is what Paul means when he urged the Colossians “to lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God” (1:10).
My dear brothers and sisters, Christian ethics and morality are nothing else, but the daily display of Jesus’ victory over death in the lives of those who follow Christ. Therefore, when you and I extend ourselves in love to others, when you and I reach out to the lost, when you and I, despite the hostility, rejection or indifference for the sake of Christ, keep loving and praying for those who reject us, we reflect the victory of Jesus over death. When you and I keep calm in the midst of pressure, the power that raised Christ from the dead is manifested through us. When we forgive each other as Christ has forgiven us, we live the power of the resurrection of Christ.
Let us make it our daily prayer that God’s power be revealed in us. Resurrection power is manifested in humility, patience, kindness, and love. May the Spirit of the Lord breathe upon us the power to produce fruits that reveal the living Christ dwelling in us. Or as our next song says, “You ask me, how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!
May the Risen Lord, dwell in us. Amen!
 Alfred H. Ackley. He Lives, Praise: Our Songs and Hymns (SingSpiration Music. Grand Rapids 1979) 90