Your Hidden Life

July 31, 2022; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz, Pastor
Proper 13 C. where your treasure is.jpg

Your Hidden Life Shows through

 

Rev. Kurt Lantz Proper 13 C Colossians 3:1-11

July 31, 2022 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON
 

 

“Dear saints and faithful brothers in Christ...

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father” (Colossians 1:2).

 

This is the last Sunday of our series of Epistle Readings from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. It has all been about adjusting to a new life due to being moved from one place to another. God has brought your life into Christ through faith, as if He moved you from one home to another, from life in your sinful flesh and the wicked world, to life in Christ. And living in Christ has its effect on you, just as the neighbourhood where you live has its effect on your life.

 

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). He has moved us into a new home, into a place that is full of His forgiving love and His perfect holiness. “You who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him” (vv. 21-22).

 

I hope that through our meditation on this theme over the last three weeks and by your repeated reading of the letter a few times this month, you were able to hear in today’s Epistle Reading the references to our new life, moved into Christ Jesus, specifically the phrase: “For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

 

You have moved, but your new home is hidden. It is hidden from the world and that is not too surprising. They don’t know where you live and so they don’t understand some of the things you do and the way you think about some things. That is okay. The surprising way you react to things in this world may be causing them to ask, “Where do you come from?”

 

But it is even more mysterious in the sense that our new life in Christ is also somewhat hidden from ourselves. It has only been revealed to us in the words of Scripture. Even though we now live in Christ, we haven’t yet reached our eternal home. We are not yet residing in the heavenly place with God where the souls of the departed faithful are at peace. Nor has God brought about the promised new creation in which we will live in our resurrected bodies for all eternity. But we know enough about the place that it has its effect upon the way that we think and the way that we speak and the way that we act.

 

When I was a teenager, I respected my pastors but they didn’t really strike me as the kind of people who were all that interesting. One day at the youth Bible Study, the pastor let it slip that he had served in the Viet Nam war. Well, that was a little interesting. He also said that he was a paratrooper. He was trained to jump out of helicopters. That was much more exciting than anything else I knew about his life. But all of that backstory was just to set the scene for something not so exciting but something worth thinking about. He told us that when he came home from Viet Nam he took the bus to his hometown and then walked out to the farm, and when he got there he found out that his family had moved.

 

As a typical teenager, I didn’t store in my brain why my pastor told us this story of his life, but perhaps it had something to do with our Epistle Reading today and the fact that our life is in Christ, and yet it is a hidden life because Christ has ascended to the right hand of the Father.

The story of my pastor coming home from war and finding that his family home had moved came to my mind as a bit of a picture of the life we now live in Christ.

 

God has delivered us from a war zone by taking us into Christ. We are on our way home. In contrast to where we are coming from, we know that home is filled with love and safety and peace; and yet it is hidden. For my pastor on his way home, there were certainly some things about his life hidden from him, like where it was. But there were other things that were very clear to him: that there was joy awaiting his arrival; that it was a safe place; that there would be good home cooking and bed to sleep in, and that even now that hidden home was full of family who loved him.

 

And so even with home still hidden, he would walk toward it all the more eager to find it. He would think along the way about what awaited him there, and ponder what kind of man his mother and father had raised him to be, and all of that would lead him to be confident and courteous and helpful to whoever he met on his way and not to be turned aside by distractions or lured away in a different direction.

 

Your life is hidden with Christ in God in a very deep and profound way that is worth thinking about you as you make your way in this world. St. Paul encourages us to think about it, ponder it. And let our hidden life be revealed in our outward life, the way that we interact and deal with others; not turning aside to distractions that inflame the war with our sinful nature, but setting our minds on things above where He is seated, where our life truly is.

 

Jesus tried to point people to their hidden life when they became distracted by the things of this world, worried about getting a fair share of the inheritance (Luke 12:13) or how to store up all of things they had worked hard for so that they can enjoy them in a leisurely retirement (vv. 16-10). He called that covetousness, the specific topic of the last of the commandments that God gave from Mount Sinai. In our Epistle Reading St. Paul also noted that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), that means worshipping a false god, which is what the very first commandment prohibits.

 

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, the wisdom of Solomon reveals that all of these things of the world are vanity (emptiness), a striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14) which blows through your fingers. You cannot hold onto any of this stuff, because it is not where your life truly is. Your life is hidden with Christ in God. So “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 1:1). The things above are eternal, everlasting, permanent. They do not slip through your fingers like the wind. They are your everlasting possession. It is not vanity to seek the things above. It is not empty. It is fulfilling, fulfilling who you are in Christ.

 

You have been raised with Christ so seek the things that are where He is. Seek the things that await you in your hidden home. Set your mind on what is yours, and in contrast, dispel the earthly thoughts. For in relation to them you have died (v. 3). This is a clear testimony of the effect of your Baptism. In Holy Baptism you died with Christ and have been raised again with Him, and your life is now hidden with Him in the heavenly places.

 

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (v. 5), not only covetousness but all of the immoral sins of the earthly, sinful flesh. “In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away” (vv. 7-8). You don’t live there anymore. “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

 

It is time to take off the army uniform which made it clear for all to see that your life was at risk, that you were in danger, that you were in a place where there was enmity and strife and death. It is time to put on the new self which reflects your hidden life in Christ. It gives a picture, an image of the Creator. It is does not reflect any particular nation or culture or family, but it reflects the one who came to save them all from sin, to give us all an eternal home with our loving heavenly Father.

 

That change of clothes is another baptismal image which we referred to in the first of these sermons on Colossians. It is being clothed with Christ, like the catechumens who were presented in white robes a couple of months ago, or the pastor whose imperfections and unique character are meant to be hidden under the robes he wears. It is Christ who is to be seen in our daily lives because it is Christ in whom we live.

 

He has covered each and every one of us in His own holiness and righteousness and purity through the forgiveness of sins. He has secured for us an eternal home of love and peace and safety with the heavenly Father. And even now while that life is somewhat hidden, our life reflects His image. People come to know where we live by the way that we react to things in this world: by the way we react to disease and death; by the way that we react to slander and persecution; by the way that we react to inheritances and retirement savings; by the way that we move forward toward our eternal home with a purpose, setting our minds on things above, knowing that our life may be hidden, but that it is “with Christ in God” where there is forgiveness and love, life and salvation, and Christ is all in all.

 

 

“Grace be with you” (Colossians 4:18).