The passage from verse one to verse seventeen is sub-titled in the NLT, 'Living the new life'. Paul is urging and encouraging this group of people relatively new to the faith to become what they already are. They have the seal of the Holy Spirit within them, they are seen by God as His children, what does that mean to them in their daily living? Paul will go on in more practical details, but to begin he challenges the believers in Colossae to focus on heaven. He can see that the danger for them is that they become too earth-bound. They would have had busy lives, just as we do, some in business, some in court, some serving their masters. Their lives would have become more complex once they chose to follow Jesus. There may have been outright persecution, but inevitably most would have faced prejudice, possible loss of jobs and being cold-shouldered by their families. Just as in many countries in the world today, it wasn't easy being a Christian. We should be aware that Paul was not advocating an other-worldliness: he condemns that attitude in his letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 3 v 11,12). He goes on in the following verses to lay down a series of ethical principles which make it clear that he expected Christians to continue with the work of this world and to maintain all our relationships (note his writings on newly converted women and their continued obligation to their marriage vows with their unbelieving husbands in his letter to the Corinthian church- 1 Cor. 7 v 13). Believers, he urges, should see the world in the background of their new understanding of eternity. No longer should worldly things be their all in all. Once upon a time, they were caught up in the rush after possessions, selfish ambition and unethical practices: but no longer! Their lives are now hidden with Christ in God. The world may not recognise them as being any different, but at their core, in their heart, was this love relationship with the Maker of the Universe. That is our secret! We are no longer dominated by self, because we worship the living God. We no longer need to be tied to religion and ritual, because we are in a living, loving relationship with the Divine and who knows where that may take us!
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