Today’s text: Jeremiah 15-17 Colossians 3
Most of us can remember someone in our lives that had a significant impact on how we choose to live today. Perhaps it was a parent, teacher or other mentor but most can recall someone whose influence still leaves its impression on their life. My Grandmother was someone whose influence I still see evidence of in my life regardless of the fact that I now proudly bear the title of Grandfather myself. Back in the early 1960’s some of the first vending machines that sold soft drinks in cans began to appear at ‘service stations’ as they called back then. I can vividly remember us sitting at the service station waiting for our car to be repaired. It was hot, and back then not every business had air-conditioning and needless to say this one didn’t. I remember seeing that soda machine and carefully counting the change from my pocket. I had enough to buy a cold soda for Grandma, my little brother and myself. But Grandma wouldn’t let me because she was concerned that it might compromise my testimony. You see, prior to sodas being sold in cans the only drink that was packaged that way was beer. I understood her not buying a ‘devil’s food’ cake because she didn’t want to do anything to give praise to the devil but who was going to see us drink from a can? No amount of begging, whining or even the foretelling of my imminent demise could win her permission to buy a soda in a can.
I tell that story because when we look back on it we can see how silly her notion was that someone would actually think that this obviously Pentecostal old lady and two small boys would be sitting on the curb, in a dry town, on a hot day, with nothing to do but drink beer! While her application may have been a little off skew, her precept was right on target. What I took away from that experience was that despite our ‘present suffering’, our testimony, how others see the way we live out our faith is of great importance. In a time when it seems that so many Christians want to live out their lives looking and acting like the world from which they were saved, Colossians 3 stands out in stark contrast. The 3rd chapter of Colossians marks a point of transition in this small epistle. The focus is changed from doctrine to conduct, or from principle to practice. Paul herein reinforces the concept that what we believe to a large part determines how we behave. Our ability to declare and defend the doctrine of truth is of little merit if we fail to live out what we believe. Titus 1:16 “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” Paul was mindful that the pagan religions of that day required little in the way of personal morality. One could merely present his offering before his idol and continue in the same path as before. Such is not the case with those who have come to an understanding and a saving knowledge of Jesus.
Duty is inseparable from doctrine. Paul points to Jesus and reminds them that their past has died and now they are in Christ. As such they are to put to death the sin that once defined them. They have taken off their old self and now are to clothe themselves renewed in the knowledge and in the image of Christ. It is worth noting that their old nature was not renewed or even reformed, rather it was put to death and replaced with a new nature that looks an awful lot like Christ.
Hereby Paul is also urging us to look up, remember who we are now, remember who we once were, and look to who we will be when He returns.