Paul, a person of action, tells us to put to death sinful actions, to set aside harmful behavior, to take off the old nature, and to put on these spiritual practices that identify us as people raised with Christ. Only the power of the Holy Spirit makes these actions possible, and Paul invites us to participate actively in the transformation. God’s love reaches us wherever we are, but it moves us on to become more like Jesus.
Gender, race, class, and culture become inconsequential to those who are in Christ. John Wesley talked about God’s love shared with us through grace and expressed in a variety of ways. Prevenient grace is the love that acts before our awareness of God. Convicting and justifying grace is that which helps us see that apart from God we are lost and hopeless. Sanctifying and perfecting grace create the opportunity to move from divisions, prejudices, and behaviors that cause harm toward unity, love, and holiness of heart and life.
While our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” and what we shall be has not yet been revealed, Paul challenges us to become a different kind of community in particular ways. He invites us to “put to death” external negative behaviors that others may witness. And he goes a step further to note that even our emotions (that are not seen) be set aside. We strip off the old self and its practices and clothe ourselves with the new self. That “spiritual clothing” helps us live together in love with Christ at the center. That love is how the world knows that we follow Jesus. What practices do we need to strip away in order to clothe ourselves with those virtues and practices that reflect the image of our Creator?
Eternal God, create in me the desire to be transformed in Christ. Help me to surrender my will to yours and to follow you faithfully into the world. Amen.
The Hosea passage portrays the agony of God, who is torn between the demands of judgment and of grace. When justice and grace are weighed in God’s balances, grace always prevails. Psalm 107’s language applies to many experiences of alienation. Lostness, hunger, thirst, and weariness characterize the condition of those cut off from God; yet if they seem abandoned, they are not. God has guided them out of the desert and back to their homes once again. The freedom to live in goodness is the subject of Colossians. The passage points read- ers beyond “things that are on earth” to “things that are above.” Freedom from greed is the focus of Luke 12:13-21, a text that addresses the dif cult issue of how the Christian is to deny the temptations of materialism while living in a very material world. The farmer is not condemned because he worked to produce a bumper crop, but his demise is viewed as tragic because he wrongly believed that his bulging barns would be his salvation.
• Read Hosea 11:1-11. God’s constant love, mercy, and grace allow for transformation. What would it be like if our sys- tems employed a justice designed to transform?
• Read Psalm 107:1-9, 43. From what captivity has God redeemed you?
• Read Colossians 3:1-11. What do you need to take away from your life in order to clothe yourself with the practices that re ect the image of God?
• Read Luke 12:13-21. How can you feel more satis ed with what you have? How will this allow you to share more with others?
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