Imagine being selected to be in the starting line up of a major league sports team but then showing up on game day wearing the OTHER team’s uniform! Or imagine being a member of a choir but raising a megaphone to your mouth and singing something different from the rest of the group. Ridiculous, right? But how much more outrageous is it to become a Christian and then act just like the rest of the world?
That’s a vital point Paul makes in Colossians 3. Since we have been raised in Christ (joined his “team”) we should set our hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things. Put to death whatever belongs to the earthly nature. Not only things like sexual immorality but also a greedy heart (“idolatry”) that always wants more of “something just for me.” Also anger, unwholesome talk, and lying of all sorts.
Research by the Barna Group consistently shows that American Christians adopt lifestyles that are virtually the same as nonChristians, the same values, and the same fears and insecurities. We fall asleep in the American Dream when we’re called to stay awake and vigilant. We gorge ourselves when others go hungry and don’t even blink an eye of concern. If we’re honest with ourselves, you and I likely fall in that group to some degree. It’s like we signed up for one team but our ambitions and desires are aligned with the opponent team!
Our daily challenge is to put off the old self and put on the new self. Change uniforms. Take on a new purpose. Being renewed in the image of our creator requires change, not living like everyone else, but set aside for God. There’s this deception that if we look like the world then others will be more attracted to Jesus. The likely reality is the more we look like the world, the less likely others will see him at all.
We belong to God, not the world. We can’t belong to both. It’s not enough to pray the team prayer at the beginning of the day and then spend the rest of the day pursuing the goals of the other side. If we’re going to call ourselves Christian, we need to wear our uniform all day long, pressing forward toward our goal of bearing the image of Christ, clothed with his compassion, kindness, humility, and gentleness toward one another; bearing with each other, forgiving, and responding to needs not just with prayer but in practical expressions of love; led by a peace that rules our hearts; and thankful.
“Christ is all and is in all.” Let us vow to be all in too.