Christian faith = a life of total upheaval
In Colossians 3:1-2 Paul encouraged the new Colossian believers (and us), “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” In verse 5 he adds, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature.” And in verse 8 he exhorts us, “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” What Christians often fail to recognize is that a call to Christ is a call to us to turn away from an old way of living and to turn into a new way of living.
Such a turn from one way of living to another is not easy and should never be taken lightly.
In 1997, just 10 days after she was born, Delimar Vera was snatched from her crib in Philadelphia and whisked away to New Jersey by Carolyn Correa who also burned the house down to cover up the kidnapping. For six years, Luzaida Cueva, Delimar’s mother thought her daughter had died in the fire. But the truth was eventually found out, and on March 8, 2004, Delimar was reunited with her real mother. Delimar had been raised in a home in New Jersey under the name Aaliyah with those whom she thought were her family. Suddenly she was moved to Philadelphia with a new name and a new mother and a new set of family. In an article in USA Today on March 10, 2004, David Fassler a University of Vermont professor of child psychiatry remarked, “An unusual and tragic situation like this shakes the very core of a child’s sense of stability and predictability of the world around them.” University of Pennsylvania assistant professor of psychology Sara Jaffee added, “I would be very, very surprised if things go as happily and smoothly [as they did during the reunion]. There are just so many changes this little girl has to face. I would be really surprised if this doesn’t take some toll on her.”
A Christian is like someone who had been stolen away from our real home, raised in another home, then rescued and restored to our true heavenly Father. After being raised in the wrong home, what makes us think that it will be easy to leave the old life behind and to learn easily to live a new kind of life?
No wonder Paul uses such active verbs and such challenging phrases when calling us to move from one kind of way of living into a different kind of way of living:
- “Seek the things that are above” (verse 1)
- “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (verse 2)
- “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (verse 3)
- “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly” (verse 5)
- “You must get rid of all such things” (verse 8)
- “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices” (verse 9)
The Christian life is not a life of settling in or settling down. It is a life of total upheaval.
C.S. Lewis points out, “I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance are inclined to feel that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would leave us alone…. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us….
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.
“You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” (Mere Christianity, p. 172-173 & 174)
Do not go into the Christian life—or stay in the Christian life—thinking it is a matter of holding your own. It is a matter of changing over and over again as we are made more and more into the likeness of Christ.