In the blog before this one the title was “his death for our life,” meaning Jesus died on the cross so we can have eternal life, the best deal ever. So, assuming we have enough sense to believe it, what happens next?
A journey now begins, where instead of it being “his death for our life,” it becomes “our death for his life.” Or as Paul phrased it in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” So this journey we’re on involves us dying. We’re as “crucified” as Jesus was on the cross. We’re that dead.
And the reason we’re that dead is so Jesus can live his life in us. And there is no greater journey a human can take in this life than that. That’s because Christ’s life in us “is the hope of glory,” as Paul phrased it in Colossians 1:27. It means we can taste of eternal life now. We don’t have to wait until the resurrection of our bodies to experience eternal life; we can actually begin to experience it in our present lifetime now.
It’s the great “heavenly gift” Paul talked about in Hebrews 6:4-5, that enables us to “taste the powers of the coming age” now. The Christians in Hebrews had tasted it. So had the Galatians in Galatians 3:5. So had Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when he talked about “Christ’s power resting on me.” It’s what inspired his “hope of glory.” because he was already experiencing that power and glory of eternal life awaiting him in the future in his daily life as well.
He even stated outright in Colossians 3:1 that we’ve already been “raised with Christ” and “our life is now hidden with Christ in God,” verse 2, so of course we can experience “now” what eternal life is.
But how is it possible now? In verse 3, Paul answers that in three words: “For you died.” So experiencing eternal life in the here and now involves us dying in the here and now too. We need to die for Christ to live his life in us. That’s our journey in this life now. But how do we die now, exactly? Do we die physically, or what?
Fortunately, Paul immediately explains how we die in verse 5: we “Put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature.” So it’s things within our nature that have to die, things like “sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy” (verse 5, The Message). It’s getting rid of our “bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk” (verse 8), and putting a total stop to “lying to each other,” because we’re “done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes we’ve stripped off and put in the fire” (verse 9).
But that doesn’t happen overnight, does it? So it’s a journey we’re on, involving “taking off our old self and putting on a new self…in the image of our Creator” (verses 9-10). It’s travelling along a road that isn’t shaped by things and feelings anymore, it’s a life of knowing what our Creator is like and becoming more and more like him.
So more and more Christ becomes ”our life,” verse 4. We’re gradually filling up our closet with a whole set of new clothes, the kind of things Jesus was well known for in his human lifetime, like “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (verse 12). And we steadily become more “even-tempered, content with second place, and we forgive others as quickly and completely as the Master forgave us. And regardless of what else we put on, we wear love. It’s our basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it” (verses 13-14).
And with Christ’s life in us, his peace now fills us too, which is something to be thankful for, because relationships can become strained so easily nowadays. He fills us with his wisdom too – also much needed in this crazy world. And all thanks to our Father who made all these things possible through his Son (verses 15-17).
It’s “our death for his life,” a journey that clothes us in a whole new wardrobe of peace, wisdom and love, so we can experience eternal life now. It’s quite the journey we’re on, and we can experience being on it every day too.