If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4
The great redemption story of the Bible is that God is actively and intentionally rescuing us from ourselves. In his infinite grace and mercy God makes a way for us sinners to be restored to him through Jesus. I know we know this. I’m just not always convinced that we know this. What I mean is that I think we easily and often lose sight of the glorious gift of our salvation and all the implications of it.
Look at Paul’s powerful language to the Colossian church:
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
It isn’t that somehow God simply paid a fine for us by the death of his Son and now we go on our merry way with a “get out of jail free” card. It is wholly true that Jesus paid our debt of sin—I’m not implying otherwise—but the implications are far greater than us just now being given a pass.
When Jesus died, we died. That’s what Paul is explaining in the middle of Colossians 2. And here he simply references that truth. “For you have died…” You and I are no more; at least not as our old selves. We now have a life that is hidden in Christ. Jesus’ death and resurrection doesn’t simply wash the dirt off of who we were and give us a fresh coat of paint. When God gave himself up for us he destroyed the old and corrupted one that we were, cancelling our debt because he rid us of the old creation. We have been made wholly different, with a new origin and a new existence. Neither are our own.
Now, who we are is hidden in who Christ is. And this is an abundant grace! It isn’t as petty as losing our individuality and identity. Instead it is that we are given a far better identity and rescued from the barrenness of our corrupted isolation (which we often mistakenly laud as individuality). We are now part of the Body of Christ. Connected to the Vine. Living stones being built up as a spiritual house. You can choose whichever metaphor you like, the Bible is replete with them. We who were not a people are now God’s people.
Who we are is hidden in who Christ is.
I’ve been thinking off and on about this for quite a few days. I read this passage earlier this week and I keep finding this concept returning to me. What does it mean? What does it look like to live in light of this truth?
Who I am is hidden in who Christ is. What does this mean for how I live today? How I think? What I chase after and what I value? Am I still finding myself living for who I used to be? Living for self? Living for the approval of others? Living in response to fear or a desire to control? Am I setting the agenda, defining the parameters, living in an unhidden attempt to make a name for myself?
The radical—and even offense—truth of the gospel comes in Paul’s next words. He declares to this Colossian church that because we are hidden in Christ we don’t even appear until he does. Alone we are nothing. Christ is all and we are in him, hidden there against our own sinfulness and depravity. Hidden there against our own inabilities and weakness. Hidden there to share in his glory when he returns.
Why is it again that we are always trying to come out of hiding? Always trying to make our own way, get attention for ourselves, establish our own plans?