Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Colossians 3:3-4

3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

What does it mean that our lives are now hidden with Christ? The only way to truly understand this verse is to read it in the context of our dying and being raised with Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross over 2000 years ago, we died with Him. This is an incredible mystery and an astonishing truth! But let’s go deeper here… What does it mean to have died?

For me, this is difficult to wrap my brain around. I mean, I’m obviously here typing this. I walk around. I eat. I sleep. I breathe. I’m “alive” right? But the truth is, I also died. It is quite the paradox! How is it that I died with Christ on the Cross, yet am still here, living and breathing today? I don’t have all the answers. But to me, to have died means that I have no life in and of myself. It means that any strength of my own ceases to have power and will not bear any real or lasting fruit. My being dead means that anything I do apart from a revelation of Christ in me is powerless; it’s all dead apart from Him! Conversely, any life that may result from anything I do only comes from Christ in me (whether I realize it or not). My life is hidden with Christ. My motivations, my actions and my activities will only bear fruit if they are rooted in a revelation of Christ in me. This is why Colossians 3:1- 2 tell us to set our hearts and minds on things above. We set our minds and hearts on things above because if we fail to do so, we will not live; we will not see life. Our life is hidden with Christ and the only way we’ll find it is in and through Him! It follows then that being alive means only one thing: Christ. And any life that is expressed through me is now an expression of my union with Jesus.

I love Colossians 3:4. It says that when Christ - who is our life - appears, then we also will appear in glory. Nearly every commentary I’ve read says this verse is referring to Christ’s second coming. Some translations go so far as to even translate this verse using phrases like "Christ’s return” or “second coming”. Maybe it is
referring to Jesus' second coming? But if it is only referring to a future event, then setting my mind and heart on things above has no power for my life right now. If this verse is only referring to a future event, then Paul is only asking us to “hold on” by ourselves and operate out of our own strength until Christ’s second coming. But we know that Paul is not asking us to operate out of our own strength, so it follows that Christ appearing can’t be limited to just being a future event. It is a now event that has power and effect on our lives right now!

Throughout Scripture, we see that God is calling us to live a life that bears fruit for Him. And since our life is hidden with Christ in God, we know that the only way for us to experience, express and produce life now is in and through Him. That’s why Paul exhorts us to set our hearts and minds on things above in Colossians 3:1-2. Paul wants us to really live! Colossians 3:4 says that when Christ – who is our life - appears, then we will also appear.
Christ’s appearing is a now event and one that occurs often. For each one of us, it can occur daily. It can even occur multiple times in a day. We see in Scripture that Paul himself had multiple encounters with Jesus (Acts 9, 2 Cor. 12) and I'm certain that he had many more encounters with Jesus than are documented in the New Testament. Remember that Paul said in Galatians 1 that he wasn't taught the Gospel by any man, but that he "received it by revelation from Jesus Christ". This is an example for for all believers. We must continually receive from Jesus Christ, just like Paul did. In doing so, we will really live!

For us to really live, we must receive. And for us to receive, Christ must appear to us. The Greek word translated “appear” in Colossians 3:4 is “phaneroo” which means, "to make manifest, visible or known that which has been hidden or unknown". Other sources define "phaneroo" as meaning, "to make actual and visible; realized". It makes sense then, that when you read some of the more literal translations of Colossians 3:4 (Darby, Young's) they use the word "manifest" instead of the word "appear". This seems to be a more accurate translation and breaks us out of the kind of thinking that limits us to merely “holding on” until Jesus returns at His second coming. Having a better understanding of the word “phaneroo” and looking at multiple translations, I see this verse as being more about Christ manifesting in our lives today than it is bout Him coming back in the future. Even further, I believe this verse is talking about Christ becoming known to us in our present day circumstances, right here, right now. We will know Christ as we set our hearts on things above. Christ will be realized in our lives as we set our minds on things above!

What a wonderful privilege it is that we can know Christ and that He will manifest in our lives daily and intimately. Even further, as we know Christ, as He is manifest and realized in our lives, then we too appear with Him in glory. Remember that Paul is always speaking in the context of our death and resurrection with Christ. As we remember our death and resurrection with Christ and He is made known to us, we will consequently see ourselves in Him and Him in us. When we see ourselves in Him and Him in us we will naturally begin to live out of this truth and express it in our daily lives. This is what it means for us to appear in glory. To appear in glory means Christ manifesting Himself in and through us as we live our daily lives. We appear in glory when Jesus is realized, demonstrated and expressed in our lives. So, as I focus on my union with Christ, He manifests Himself and is made known to me in a real way. This reveals to me who I really am and enables me to express His love and life outwardly.

- I focus on my union with Christ (set my heart and mind on things above)
- He makes Himself known to me (He appears)
- Myself in Christ becomes known to me (I appear)
- Christ in me is expressed in my life
. (Glory!)

Where can I see this happening in my life? You know, just yesterday I was confronted by temptation. Temptation was yelling in my face trying to get me to act out of alignment with who I really am. I could feel the pressure of it in my body and on my emotions. In the face of all this, I picked up my Bible and read Jeremiah 1. As I did so, there wasn’t any verse that stuck out to me. I only had the hope that by somehow focusing on Christ and His Gospel things would change. Well, that’s exactly what happened. I focused on Christ and His Gospel and He showed up. He spoke to me and told me who I really am. He told me that I'm not someone who would do what I was being tempted to do. Jesus Himself told me and when He spoke I heard it and it resonated in my soul and spirit. I knew who I was and acted accordingly. Temptation was no longer an issue.

This is a clean break from religion. There aren’t any rules here, just an encounter with Someone who changes me and changes the way I act. These encounters are crucial to me really living life. Truth be told, I have no life apart from these encounters with the living Christ. My life is hidden in Jesus and I can only find life by encountering Him. To live daily, I must encounter Christ daily.


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