“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 … And (having) put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew … but Christ is all, and in all.”
In Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, he paints a broad picture that Jesus Christ, though his death and resurrection, is sufficient for all people, in all places, at all times. In our resurrected life, we have first died to our old “self,” and are now alive, “hidden with Christ in God.” (There is no resurrection without death).
The reality of the coming resurrection — and the hope of the gospel — is it freely offered to all people, families, communities, cultures, societies and nations of the earth. It is given and received independent of any self-ascribed or imposed identity.
All humans are equal on the basis of our need to know God through Christ. Humanity’s search for purpose, value, worth and hope are found only in living the resurrected life.
I recently spoke on this at a church in Philippines during a short trip there. Most of the people in the audience came from far more different circumstances and backgrounds than I. Towards the end, I shared that even though I have everything I need (and more), sometimes I still don’t have hope. For all of us, the resurrected life is transcendent, beyond our limited knowledge, resources, possessions and abilities. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, what your background is, what you have or don’t have — the need for resurrection is everywhere.
It changes the way we see ourselves, others and life. Instead of reasons to give up, we always have a reason to rejoice and to hope. The resurrection of Jesus has given us a res-urrection — we are raised up with Him; because He lives, you “will live, also.”
The hope, joy and perseverance that come from living the resurrected life are essential in much more fundamental and practical ways in many other parts of the world as compared to the United States. Here, we may worry about raising enough money to build the next building or buy the new sound system, sip our lattes in the spacious lobbies of our church buildings.
There’s a very different reality for many other Christian communities across the world, including the Philippines. (This not as a guilt trip — I like having coffee at church). For example, I was struck by the basic needs of somewhat rural Filipino pastors we heard about and met, basic needs that are an everyday reality. Some of them cannot afford the fees to travel and meet together with other pastors for prayer, fellowship and strategizing. The cost to travel can directly effect their family’s ability to eat.
At one “small” church (as almost all were) in particular, I was overcome with the beauty of God receiving what He is wor- thy of in the Philippines as they sang to him. “This barangay (small community) in this church, this time, in this moment in history, the Father is building his worldwide church and establishing his universal kingdom,” I pondered.
He desires all tongues, tribes, peoples and nations to worship him in the resurrected life. I witnessed firsthand — and halfway around the world — a small group of believers living this resurrected life, and proclaiming to Jesus His worth.
I challenge us to do the same.
(Go here to view the July issue of HM Magazine, where this column was published.)