Living The Baptismal Life
St. Paul's "letter" to the Colossians is more than a letter. It is, in fact, a baptismal address written to the newly baptized in the church at Colossae teaching them (and us) about the baptismal life.
Though it is addressed to the baptized the vice and virtue listed herein is God's will for all men, a will and way of life that one disregards at his own peril. It is true that such virtue and putting away of vice is beyond human ability, and so all men must submit to Christian teaching, and then to Holy Baptism; for it is here that earthy men are begotten anew from above, and enabled to rejoice in the putting off of vice, and the importation God's virtue; not's man's "value system."
Here is what Paul writes:
1 Since, then, you have been resurrected in Christ seek the things that are above where Christ is at the right hand of God. 2 Let your affections be fixed on the things above, not on the things of the earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 But when Christ your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory!
5 And so put to death everything in you that is earthly: sexual immorality of every type, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness which is idolatry; 6 on account of which things divine retribution is coming. 7 In these things you, too, once walked when you were living in them. 8 But now you must give up all these things: anger, hot-temper, evil, abusive language and obscene talk. 9 And do not like to one another seeing that you have shed the old man and his practices; 10 and have clothed yourself with the new man which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
11 Here there exists neighed Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave or free. But Christ is all in all. (Colossians 3:1-11 DKV)
Take note that the entire catalogue that Christian thought rejects, is precisely what the culture embraces. "Sexual immorality of every type" is the national "sacrament" but we who have moved our place of residence from the "domain of darkness" to the "kingdom of God's own dear Son" (Colossians 1:14) must shed all of these.
As every Christian knows there are sins of: thought, word and deed. And so it is not enough that we put these deeds behind us, but also that we change our thoughts and words as well. A Christian cannot "aid and abet" the culture by approving of the its "values" in his mind, with his words, or by his silence when he has clear opportunity to speak up.
But again let us remember that we as the Baptized cannot expect those who worship at culture's altar and sing its dead liturgy to reform their thoughts, words or deeds. First the heart must be changed and that is the church's petition as often as she prays, "Thy kingdom come."
And so while not allowing ourselves to be troubled by the decrepit state of humanity - because the changing of hearts is the bailiwick of the Holy Spirit, let us continue to worship, pray and live the baptismal life.
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