The list was impressive but intentionally one-sided. It was on the membership application card for the church and if you wanted to become a member, you must sign the membership card, agreeing to the list. What was the list about? Things you would not do if you became a member of that community of faith. And what was on the list? The usual suspects and a surprise or two. Things like drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes (cigars were not on the list), playing cards (face cards; Rook was acceptable), dancing, and gossiping. But no list of what you would or should do. Interesting!
The felt need for such lists and boundaries may well have some biblical roots, roots we will see in our study of Colossians (e.g., Colossians 3:5-17). But those biblical lists of “don’t do these things” are balanced with “instead, do these things!” And in our Colossians study for this week, we should note that before the lists are given, the do’s and do not’s, the Apostle Paul first gives the rationale, the reasons, an explanation of what happens when we become disciples of Jesus.
This week we focus on Colossians 2:20-3:4. It’s not yet about rules and regulations – that’s too temporary and worldly. That approach is also unsustainable. For Paul, it’s about new life, a new reality. Jesus and his followers are so closely linked that what is true of Jesus is also true of his followers. It might not always feel that way, but it is true. Learning to believe and act on that belief before we feel it may well be the definition of walking by faith. Living a life of faith always means change and always for the better.
“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). This week, we worship and explore both dying and rising with Christ. The list requires both!