Learning to be a New Creation in Christ
As a follower of Christ I am told to take up my cross and follow Jesus (Mark 8:34-35). In Easter that charge takes on the promise of eternal life, a life without end in the presence, knowledge, and will of God. But what does that mean about my life of responsibilities, rights, and privileges?
In Christ we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Christ, there is no longer “Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, uncivilized person, slave, or free person” (Colossians 3:11 God’s Word Translation). My life is no longer limited by my other affiliations, political tribes, or racial backgrounds. In Christ, I am bound by love to Lutherans and Copts, Green Partiers, and Nova Scotians.
The more biblical this gets, the more I am reminded of my duty to be responsible toward others. I am called to be more than my cultural privileges. I am called to be a human being who has died with Christ and has been risen with Christ. I am no longer to be defined by all of these external attributes, nor am I to define others by their attributes.
Colossians 3 is one of those benchmark passages we should all have memorized. It lays out the way of Christ-formation for followers. In it Paul reminds us to put away our wordiness and be renewed into thinking like our Creator. Then it says there will be no other attribute in our way.
Then we are told how to be as God’s people:
Instead, Christ is everything and in everything.
As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Above all, be loving.This ties everything together perfectly. Also, let Christ’s peace control you. God has called you into this peace by bringing you into one body. Be thankful. Let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you. Use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to teach and instruct yourselves about ⌊God’s⌋ kindness.Sing to God in your hearts. Everything you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Now, if we do these things, we will live in the world free of our privileges and responsibilities not because we have abandoned the world, but because we have taken up our true identity as Christ’s new creation and will treat others as Christ intends.
I am not there yet. I do not always feel tolerance and forgiveness and love when faced with another person who challenges me. That is why God puts us into a body in the church where we know we are loved in our vulnerability and able to face the difficult issues of life together.
If we find our strength in our church community and our identity in Christ who gave himself for the world, we will find the courage to listen, respond, and live out of our first responsibility: love.
Not weak nor driven by political correctness, but strong, responsible for others out of our deepest identity and loving. That love is our cross, as Christ’s cross was his love for all humanity, sinful as we are.
As a church, we come together to worship and learn and serve, which are all key to our mission as an embassy of the Reign of God. Notice the learn piece, which we call Knowing Christ. We come to know Christ in the Bible, of course, but importantly in small groups. In a small group we not only learn about Christ, but we come to know Christ as revealed in other people who are not us.
That is no small thing. Our Lord took upon himself the sins of the world, all humanity. We are to follow him beyond our comfortable circle of people in our various tribes. And we begin here at Christ Church among people who are committed to love us as we Know, Love, and Serve Christ together.
GOD’S WORD Translation. (1995). (Col 3:11–17). Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group.