Am I still in this world?
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:1-11 [ESV]
In the movie, Little Big Man, Dustin Hoffman plays the part of Jack Crabb, the sole surviving white man at Custer’s Last Stand at Little Bighorn. Jack is adopted by the Native Americans and is taken in by Old Lodge Skins, played by Chief Dan George. He becomes Jack’s adoptive grandfather. Whenever Jack visits him Old Lodge Skins says, “My heart soars like a hawk to see you again.” But at the end of the movie when the old man goes out to die, things don’t go quite as planned. He awakens from his near death experience and asks, “Am I still in this world?”
We seldom need to ask that question. Life is hard all around us. Reminders of our broken world, fallen humanity, and our own sinful flesh regularly remind us that we are still in this world. Life is not easy. There are many challenges. And although we may long to be with Jesus in heaven, we know we’re not.
But Paul says here that we have died, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God. Certainly that is true; scripture would not lead us astray. This comes after we have been reminded that we have been raised with Christ. Through baptism we have been united with Christ’s death and resurrection. We died with Christ. We have died to sin. We have died to the elemental things of this world.
But we must be reminded of this. The world’s ways all too often sweep us up in their strong currents. We get distracted, deceived, and deluged with opportunities to ignore God’s ways. Somehow we need to claim a death to those things.
It happens in baptism. It is secured in Jesus’ resurrection. And it is a daily need to repent and believe all this. Living with no concept of God’s ways, or how we have been led astray from them is all too easy. Letting go of the world’s allurements, and setting our minds on the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father is a continuous process of repentance and belief.
Holding the vision of Christ in glory, where he deserves to be, and anticipating our eternal joy in him is the essential element of such a life. Such a life is built on a daily recalling of our baptism, and intentional self-reckoning (cf. Romans 6:10-14) as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. That’s the world I want to be in.