The Coronavirus, Colossians and Why Tens of Millions of Us Need to Die
It is likely by the end of
this year one of two scenarios will have played out. Either the coronavirus
will live up to the hysteria and hype, killing hundreds of thousands in the US,
overwhelming our medical system and pushing our country to the brink of
economic collapse and social anarchy. Or, it will play itself out as so many
other apocalyptic threats have, passing with much less impact, good medicine
and common sense having prevailed. While I think the second scenario is more
likely, the point is that today, March 10th, our nation is overwhelmed with
fear. The question is, how do we as a people of God respond?
I have just concluded teaching a course at church on the book of Colossians. In this amazing book Paul introduces us to the “mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages but is now being revealed to the saints.” (1:26) That mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (1:27) This revelation leads Paul to write perhaps one of the most challenging and remarkable texts in all of scripture. In Colossians 3:3-4, he tells us, “for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”
Did you hear it? Do you believe it? What does it mean to you today that your life is hidden with Christ in God? Perhaps the more important question is, have you so died in Christ, have you so surrendered your life back to Him that you can say with Paul, “it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me”? (Galatians 2:20) This is the call of the follower of Jesus. This death is God’s invitation to all of us. It is death to sin, death to fear, death to the need to control our life. It is death to the self-life and death to a worldview that places us at the center and God at the periphery. It is death to our owner mindset. It is absolute, total death to all things the enemy would use against us to keep us from living the abundant life Jesus won for us on the cross and the empty tomb.
The mystery that has been revealed is that Christ not only died and rose for us, but Christ is in us and we are in Him. We have been given the opportunity to have the mind of Christ, to look out on the world with the eyes of Christ. We have been granted the title of stewards of life set free to live for Him. We have been given the rich and rare gift to walk into this world bearing the image of Christ, shining out His love and peace, His grace and hope for all the world to see.
Was there ever a time in recent history where it was more critical for the people of God to claim this promise than now? To die this death and truly live for Christ as light in an ever-darkening world?
Here then is my hope and prayer. Tens of millions of followers of Jesus, tens of millions of members of the body of Christ in every corner of the globe need to die this death in a new way. That includes me and you. It is only through deeper surrender and a re-dedication to this death that we will experience not only greater intimacy with Christ, but also the freedom and the power to let Him live in us that we might bear witness to Him in the midst of this present day.
Can you imagine the impact on the fear and panic we are seeing all around us if all of God’s people, tens of millions of us would die, really die to self and let Christ live in and through us? What would it look like for you today to embrace and internalize the truth that regardless of what might be happening around you, your life is hidden with Christ in God? Right now, that’s the reality of your life. And that life cannot be threatened by viruses or beaten down by a post-Christian and growing anti-Christian culture. It will not succumb to fear over finances, health, relationships and the future. The life we live we now live as a new creation.
This is my call, brothers and sisters in Christ. In this Lenten season – and in the midst of the hysteria, panic and fear unfolding all around us – embrace this truth. Lay your life before the cross and die this death, that the Christ who lives in you might lift you up and send you out renewed and refreshed and restored, filled with hope and ready to serve your neighbor.
That’s the end result of what it means to live in the freedom of the truth that our lives are hidden with Christ in God. It frees us up to walk into the risk, to serve others rather than protect ourselves. It frees us to be present when it’s risky, to step forward and encourage when others are retreating in fear. Please know I am not advocating irresponsibility or throwing out all caution. I am calling us to do what Christians have done throughout the centuries in the face of such epidemics; die to fear and react out of freedom, love and service, letting your life bear witness to Christ in you for His glory.
If tens of millions of followers of Jesus would die this death, we could change the world through our witness at this very moment. How else could we possibly respond if it is Christ who lives in us? In what other possible way could the body of Christ react if our lives are hidden with Christ in God? Will you believe it? Will you live it?