Did you watch the funeral of Prince Philip who recently passed? Or maybe you saw highlights or pictures on the news. Did you notice that his coffin was transported in a plain old green Land Rover Defender pick-up truck? Defenders are mode of Land Rovers that look kind of like Jeeps. You rarely see Defenders here in the USA.
When I saw that the casket of the long-time husband of the Queens was being transported in a Defender pick-up truck, I thought, that is a very unique, decidedly non-royal, choice. It was reported that it was Philip’s request to use the truck, an 18 year old vehicle that he owned, rather than a hearse, because of his love for Land Rovers and his love for the military, as Land Rover Defenders have long been the iconic military vehicle of the British armed forces, of which Philip was a member. Philip’s choice jumped out at me right away, not just because it is so uncharacteristic for a royal. When we were missionaries in Jamaica, because it was a former British colony, there were Land Rover Defenders all over the place, and they really grew on me. During that year in Kingston, Jamaica, I looked into buying an old beat-up Defender for sale. These feelings still rise up inside me when I see one of those on the road. Longing. Desire. Coveting. I want one!
It might not be for Land Rover Defenders, but maybe you know the feeling of longing, of desire. Wanting something that isn’t yours, something you don’t need, or that you can’t have. Or maybe there are other thoughts or feelings that bubble up from deep inside you?
As our hearts become more like the heart of Jesus then our thoughts and actions will naturally be more and like his. But did you ever notice how things come into your mind or out of your mouth that aren’t like Jesus? Have your ever balled your hands into fists to hit? Ever notice how your eyes wander? Or that your neck cranes to look at what is not yours? Or that your fingers tap away, in the process of taking you online to places you should not go?
What we do about this? Sometimes these feelings and desires can be strong. As we continue studying the letter of Colossians, we’ll find here is hope and there is help! Turn to Colossians 3:5-11.
Before we read the passage, notice how Paul starts verse 5. Paul has a flow of thought, which we know by his use of the word “therefore.” What he said before provides the rationale for what he is about to say now. What did he say before? Last week we studied verses 1-4, and we saw Paul talk about how, as people who love Jesus, we are people who are raised with Christ, and therefore we focus our hearts and minds on things above. Paul was talking about developing a longing for and mindset focused on the mission of the Kingdom of God.
Now in verses 5-11 he is going to give us practical guidance to help us have that Kingdom mindset. Actually, verses 5-11 are part one and verses 12-17 are part two. Those two parts are very easy to remember, as they feature a common metaphor. Clothing. Part one, verses 5-11, is “take off dirty clothes,” and Part two, verses 12-17 is “put on clean clothes”.
We also see how the clothing metaphor connects to what Paul wrote in chapter two, because there Paul said that what being raised with Christ means for a Christian is victory over sin on two levels. The first level is the eternal level. Victory over sin, because Jesus’ defeated sin, death and the devil when he died on the cross and rose to new life, means we have hope of eternal life, freedom from sin’s final consequences. But that is not all there is to victory in Jesus. The second level affects the here and now. We also have the wonderful privilege of experiencing victory over sin in our lives now. Setting our hearts and minds on things above is not only the hope of eternal life in heaven but also an active seeking and focusing on living a Kingdom-focused life now. How do we do that? We take off the dirty clothes and we put on the clean clothes! But what does that mean? Laundry?
Go ahead and read the passage, and then check back in to the next post, and we’ll start to discuss what Paul has to say.