“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)
This statement came from someone who had also said:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11)
In saying such, he also concluded:
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
Some of us who are Christians have yet to come to the assessments and conclusions of Paul. Some of us still believe that doing the same thing may bring different outcomes. The mentality of “I can do it better” is one that plagues every human, Christians and non-Christians alike. Not too many of us are ready to call it quits yet, feeling like we still got it, feeling like we can make a difference. The question is, “from the time we inherited such belief until today, have we made the difference we had hoped to make?”
Christians sometimes see the fallouts, the detriments of society and thus feel very convinced of capable to make a change, bring a change or be the change. It can be in industrial realms, politics and religion. We try to do better than those who came before us believing that we can and that we should. Yet, until we find ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors, meeting with the same pressures as they experienced, having the same human limitations, we won’t ourselves as no different than they were.
Paul drew almost the same conclusion as King Solomon did in his days. “Vanity is vanity all is vanity”, Solomon once said. And Paul declared all as loss, in comparison to the knowledge of Christ. He said our citizenship is in heaven.
People do not always feel at home on a foreign land because their citizenship is not of such land and the possibility of deportation always lingers over their head regardless of their accomplishments on such foreign land.
“Feel at home in heaven”, Paul is saying. And until we find ourselves in a place of no more nights and tears, we’re not to feel at home.
To the believers at Colossae, Paul asked:
“Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-impose worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:20-23)
In His mind, Paul saw the believers going through the same path that he himself had gone through when he was not a believer in Christ. And now, knowing the end of such path, he found it useless for any believer to even think of taking such path, nevermind be found on it. All in all, he’s saying, “don’t waste your time…it makes no difference.”
“Dying to the spiritual forces of this world” means to no longer value the beliefs that drive this world, to no longer believe in the empty, false and weak promises.
Imagine someone was to say, “You’re going to be rich!” Many of us would ask, “How?” But when you think about the declaration, you realize that it’s no different than saying, “you could be rich!”
Because to be rich, you first have to be alive and no human being can guarantee such. Second, you need to be alive for a decent amount of time and no human being can guarantee such. Third, you need to be alive, long living healthily, and no human can guarantee such. And the wealth has to be of legal means, protected from every form of scam that’s out to deplete it gradually or wiping it all out in one pass. So, who on earth can guarantee such?
You could become a politician vowing to do good unlike the establishment, but then realize that your choice is either to resign or break your promises before anyone ever notices. The same applies to anybody at any level of leadership, Christians and non-Christians alike.
In such light, Paul commanded the following to Titus as it concerns the surrounding believers and their communities:
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.” (Titus 3:1-11)
It’s great to want to do good. Yet, it’s another thing to believe that what we see as good today will not be seen as bad tomorrow. Good is not in our power to accomplish but to believe in. And the greatest good of all is one that seems very evil from all human angles, a Father offering his son as a sacrifice to make amend for the sins of others. That should never sit right with any loving parent.
Sometimes the only good one can seemingly do is to speak of the good of another, for as long as such other person is still of decent reputation.
When you’re asked to resign or face being fired, when your honorary degree is taken back from you, when you’ve vowed to stand for those who voted you into office and are now being asked to stepped down for something you did which was largely acceptable several decades ago but not today, it may seem like death would have been a more honorable exit than a rejection in the face of anyone’s legacy.
Counting it all as loss is to be the endeavor of Christians before they even tried to believe in the integrity that this world offers and honors. It’s an integrity that doesn’t exist by any human means. For whatever good one has seemingly done, it all goes down the drain the day of discovery of any wrong such person was found meddled in.
Save yourself the heartaches. Count it all as loss before the world even offers all to you. Count it all as loss when compared to knowing Christ as your Savior and your God. We don’t have to go around proving to anyone how good we are. We’re content enough with knowing Christ Jesus the Son of God, the source of any good that can’t be taken away by any man, his love and the love of God for us.