My younger brother, Chad, worked in tech support. Sometimes I’ll call him when my computer gets cranky. If my computer were a car, then he’s like the mechanic or technician who knows his way around under the hood and gets his hands greasy. But Chad would admit that often the best solution to a computer problem is simple: Reboot!
A one-word summary to Paul’s message in Colossians 3:1-11 is exactly that: Reboot. Paul details the glitches, the things that are going wrong, then he offers the fix, the divine reboot that makes all the difference.
First, let’s set the stage.
At the end of Colossians 2, beginning in v. 13, Paul had already written of the futility of a rules-based religion. Bodily discipline and pious self-denial only treat the symptoms and not the disease. He concludes in v. 23 – “They provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”
Now in chapter 3, Paul – who himself had been the most zealous of rule keepers as a Pharisee – shows us a different way, a life focused not on the keeping of rules but on the new life that only Christ can give. And so he begins in v. 1 –
“Since you have been raised to new life in Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.”
Note the passive voice. He doesn’t say “since you have raised yourself to a new life in Christ.” Rather, “since you have been raised…” Only God can do the job! Christianity is not a self-improvement program. We are forgiven and transformed not by what we do, but by what God in Christ has done and is doing in our lives. The word for this is grace.
Because of God’s grace, his power at work in Christ and therefore working inside of us, we are able to do what Paul says next: “Set your sights on the realities of heaven.”
Steven Covey wrote Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the habits is this: “Work with the end in mind.”
Set your sights – Paul says – on the realities of heaven, our end, our goal, our objective.
My work as a hospital chaplain has brought into sharp relief what Paul is talking about. In pre-COVID times, I’ve stood with families by bedsides when they said their goodbyes to a beloved and godly grandmother about to meet Jesus. I sat with two twenty-something sons as they accompanied their dad to death’s door, tearfully telling him all that he had meant to them. He was a churchgoing and loving father who obviously had raised his sons well. The comfort that faith brings in those moments has no price-tag.
Work with the end in mind. Set your sights on the realities of heaven. In verse 3, he reminds us that our “life is hidden with Christ in God,” then in verse 4 affirms that when Christ returns, we also will share in his glory. What a promise!
So the stage is set. Paul turns our eyes toward the risen, exalted Christ who is seated in power at God’s right hand. He encourages us to focus on the prize before us. Continue reading “Reboot! (A sermon on Colossians 3:1-11)”