Put on the New You

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In the Name of the Lord
In 1 Peter 2, Peter says that just as Israel was, we - Christ-believers and the Church - are also a chosen people. In Christ, we share a single spiritual Father so we are one “people” even though we come from different backgrounds and from all over the world. In that same way, we are a "holy nation" – a specific group of people called out and set apart from all others. All of us, as Christians, are a royal priesthood as well. In Israel, under the Law, one tribe was given the task of serving as priests and acting as mediators between God and the rest of the nation. Very few people held the honor and responsibility of getting to come into God's presence. But through Christ, all believers are priests who have direct access to God the Father. We need no other mediator or go-between to go to God because of what Christ did on the cross. Because of this, we are God’s people in a very real way. We belong to him. He has made us to declare his praises. That's more than just a natural response to our Father's grace and mercy, or something we do out of obligation. Declaring God's greatness is one reason for our existence. When we praise him, we fulfill our purpose. He has called us out of the darkness of a meaningless life and an eternity apart from him, and into his wonderful light.  Discussion/Reflection Question: Spend some time in prayer to reflect on your identity as part of a chosen people. How does this identity change the way you approach God in prayer?
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Communal Responsibility
Paul tells his readers to put on love, which he calls the perfect bond of unity. He says in verse 15 of Colossians 3, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” This verse reminds us of what Jesus said in John 17. In this chapter, Jesus is on his knees, and he's praying his last prayer before he goes to the cross, and on his heart is the unity of his church. Jesus says in verses 20 and 21: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Our commitment to each other in the body of Christ is a measure of our commitment to Christ and the gospel. Paul says to be in the Word of God together, sing songs together, and build each other up. There is so much power in community that we forgo enjoying and growing in when we choose to journey along Jesus by ourselves. By cultivating a loving community where fellow believers express kindness and forgiveness in the same ways that Jesus did, we become a powerful example of what life as a Christ-follower can be like. Paul’s letters to the early church continually remind them that they need one another in this life and are called to share in one another’s burdens and joys. Discussion/Reflection Questions: Are you currently plugged into a community where you can be vulnerable and share your burdens with others? How has a Christ-centered community been a blessing to you?
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Earthly Santification
In Colossians 3, the apostle Paul echoes of the words of Jesus - inviting us into a newness of life through the means of sanctification. When we look at verses 5 through 11, Paul gives us a series of charges that will greatly determine the trajectory of our walk with Christ and our life with others. In this passage, Paul calls us away from many things. He says, put to death sexual immorality because any form of sex outside of marriage offends God. He says to put to death anything that makes you or your motives impure because we are called to live lives that are pleasing to God. And for the pleasure of God, Paul also says to put away lust, evil desires, and greed. These are all things that point to idolatry or making something God created more important than our devotion to him. The next list in these verses calls us to put away anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language. Again, reminding us that unsubmitted anger is like a slow cooker, and it becomes deep-seated malice when we refuse to reconcile with others. This is a reminder that life and death are in the tongue, and lying, slander, and filthy language wages war against the soul. Instead, Paul calls us to remember who we are and to look to Heaven in order to be reminded of who image we have been called to bear. We become those who display, to a world that lives in perpetual brokenness, a beautiful alternative that exists in Christ. Sanctification is not just for the sake of our individual holiness, but it's also for the sake of godly connection and witness to others.  Discussion/Reflection Question: Reflect on the term “sanctification” and what it means. Would this be a way that others would characterize your life?
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A Heavenly Perspective
In verses three and four of Colossians, Paul reminds us of two truths about the spiritual condition of those who are in Christ. The first thing he teaches us is we have died and are hidden in Christ. And number two, Paul says, Christ, in return, becomes our life. To be hidden in Christ is a sacred privilege we have as followers of Jesus, where we stand securely behind the glory and the accomplishments of Jesus, despite our sins and our shortcomings. In return, we choose to live humbly, understanding our need for a savior every day, and allowing that need to compel us towards faithful living and a sustainable hope. 1 Peter 1:13 also gives us the same encouragement when it says this: “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” Peter, like Paul, reminds us that this heavenly perspective supports our obedience. It helps us not slip back into our old ways again, and it reminds us to live holy because Christ is holy. It keeps us committed in a world of distraction, division, and busyness. When we begin to trust God with the way that we think and the way that we see, we can begin to trust God with the way that we should live. We are to humble ourselves before God and submit to his will. Discussion/Reflection Questions: Does having your perspective set on Heaven change the way you respond to God’s will? Would you describe your life as being one that is humbly submitted to God?