For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4
My addiction didn’t happen all at once. Like any self-destructive, evil behavior, it started slowly. I didn’t just jump into the deep end. Rather, I first just dipped my toe in and then gradually waded deeper. As the drug slowly consumed more of my life, I wasn’t necessarily conscious that it was happening. Then, suddenly, one day when my life exploded, I suddenly became aware of how far over my head I was. Terrible, dark behavior had simply become normal – until it was exposed. Then, it was obvious. Painful consequences were the wakeup call that I desperately needed. This isn’t normal. This is awful. How did I get here?
This is the tone I hear in Paul’s voice when I read today’s passage. In the preceding (yesterday’s) verses he instructed the Colossians to set their mind on heavenly things instead of earthly things. In the following (tomorrow’s) verses, he told them to put to death the evil behaviors with which they still struggled. In today’s passage, he explained their new reality. If they had come to faith, they had, in a spiritual sense, died to the old life. Their new life was from Christ. They weren’t made perfect while living in these bodies though, and so, their primary job as Christians was to daily abandon the old life to live in the new one.
This is Paul’s message to us, and it is our wakeup call: Don’t you know that you have a new spiritual life? If your faith is real, then it’s not OK to continue to follow the old ways. It’s not the normal Christian life to live enslaved to your drugs, alcohol, anger, lust, greed, resentments, prejudice, selfishness, and pride. The life you have is now the life of Christ. Act accordingly.
This, of course, isn’t just about drugs. I don’t struggle with using pills today. Still though, I have things in my life that I’ve just come to accept as normal, but which are distracting me, preventing me from being who I’m supposed to be. I have resentments, anger, selfishness, and pride that haven’t been obviously destructive enough that I’ve had to deal with them. Paul’s words though, are my wakeup call. This isn’t normal.
Daily, if we want to live as we were meant to, we must go to God, asking him to reveal to us those self-destructive behaviors that we’ve just come to accept as normal. Then, when we recognize them, we must daily do what it takes to abandon them to follow Christ.