Exploring the Scripture
The letter to the Colossians is credited to Paul, although scholars debate his authorship. Regardless, the letter reflects Paul’s understanding of the gospel message and is consistent with Paul’s teachings and witness of Jesus Christ. This letter is pastoral, carrying affirmation and encouragement for the young church in Colossae. Also, this letter teaches about identity in Jesus Christ and what faithful discipleship looks like for individuals and a Christian community. Such advice is needed, especially in the presence of other voices seeking to contradict or lead them astray.
The first four verses of chapter 3 are especially poignant as an Easter reading. It is important to Paul the Colossians understand how the mystery that is God is revealed in and through Christ. He writes about the implications of God’s wonderful love for Christian identity and way of life. The use of baptismal language, which began in chapter two (2:12 “buried with him in baptism”) continues in the opening sentence, “…you have been raised with Christ,” deeply uniting all Christians with Jesus Christ and his place with God.
The instruction as we come up from the waters of baptism having been “buried with him” is to “set [our] minds on things that are above.” In other words, to align ourselves with Christ, who is one with God’s love and power and purposes, the source of all life. This instruction speaks to the present and future. Christ calls us to follow him and live the ways of love in our world today as a new creation. We are one with Christ and one another filled with the light of hope, knowing that death does not have the final word. We emerge from the waters of baptism (buried in death) to realize birth and new life through Christ now. Easter’s story of dying and rising is realized in baptism. It marks the beginning of our intentional, active participation in God’s story and realizing the peaceable reign of God.
In this act, we are loosed from the chains that bind, be they injustices of the world, rulers, conquerors, self-imposed worthiness standards, or our efforts to achieve wealth, status, or control. We are free to “follow Christ in the way that leads to God’s peace and discover the blessings of all of the dimensions of salvation” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:2a).
As described in Colossians, the story of Easter becomes our story. Our future is secure with the God of all creation. God is the author of boundless love and grace—the mystery of life revealed through Jesus Christ made known to us through the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit. Our present is filled with possibilities for new beginnings, peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit. With Christ, new life, and the promise of becoming is always an open door.
Although not a part of today’s text, the following verses of Colossians 3 provide instruction for how first-century disciples might discern and wisely choose behaviors and practices that reflect the peace of Jesus Christ and nurture a life-giving community. In today’s world, embodying the Enduring Principles in our everyday lives is an example of how to “seek the things that are above” and align our lives with the love and purposes of God as we go out from our Easter morning celebrations to embrace new life in Christ. (Learn more about the Enduring Principles.)
Project Zion Podcast
Co-hosts Karin Peter and Blake Smith consider how this week's scripture connects to our lives today.
- The sacrament of baptism symbolizes the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and gives the promise of new life now and in the future.
- When we align ourselves with Christ, who is one with the love, power, and purposes of God, we reflect the peace of Jesus Christ in our daily lives and nurture a life-giving community.
- As disciples of Jesus Christ, our present is filled with possibilities for new beginnings, peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit.
Questions to Consider
- How has your baptism represented death and resurrection in your life? How have you experienced new life or a new beginning in your journey with Jesus Christ?
- What does it look like in today’s world to “set your mind(s) on things that are above?” What does it look like to align yourself with Christ and the love and purposes of God?
- How have you or your congregation or community experienced release from the chains that bind (injustices of the world, rulers or conquerors, self-imposed worthiness standards, your efforts to achieve wealth, status, control, or other)?
- How might embodying the Enduring Principles in our everyday lives be an example of how to “seek the things that are above” and align our lives with the love and purposes of God as we go out from our Easter morning celebrations to embrace new life in Christ?