Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Renewal of the Church

Colossians 3: 5-17

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom …” – (16)

“Put to death …”. It isn’t one of those phrases that leaves room for ifs ands and buts! Christian living is preceded by something profound, that is, the death of our former ‘earthly nature’. It calls for an utter rejection of our sinful ways - sexual immorality, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, slander and discrimination of others. We are buried with Christ and raised again for a life in Him.

Consider the massive forest fires of the recent past. We have come to understand that years of fire suppression actually contribute to these large blazes. Suppression of small ‘good fires’ leads to the accumulation of undergrowth and detritus. These become the fuel for intense ‘bad fires’ that uncontrollably leap to the crowns of trees and destroy the forest.

It is the same with us. As individuals and communities, we may in our pride and ignorance suppress the urgent need to burn away and put to death the sinful detritus of our lives. Paul warns us in verse 6 that “Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”. Let us not attempt to evade God’s cleansing fire only to risk being devoured by an all consuming inferno.

Furthermore, the forest ecology is not merely resistant to fires but can also be dependent on them. Good fires rejuvenate the soil and clear out the undergrowth to allow for more sunlight and the healthy growth of old and new trees and plants. Our spiritual growth is similarly dependent on our prior burial and rebirth with Christ and death of our earthly natures. Once reborn, we are capable of being clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and most of all love. We are to be like the fertile soil that receives God’s word. The message of Christ will dwell in us as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.

How much better it is to be filled with the peace of Christ, songs from the Spirit, and songs of gratitude to God in our hearts? We can only have room for these things if we put them in the place of the earthly desires that fill our lives. While this exchange sounds like a no brainer, Colossians 3 makes it clear that it only occurs as a result of radical events. Radical, uncomfortable change that begins with our burial with Christ and the death of our former selves. Radical, ongoing transformation in a renewed life and community. Like a good forest fire that burns and brings forth life - new, strong and abundant.

Prayer: Lord, help us to recognize the sins in our lives. Teach us to be dependent on your cleansing fire, which burns away our sins. In the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

Thought of the Day: Are we transforming?

Vinod Johnson, Carmel MTC, Boston

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