A Daily, Life-Giving Death

The Christian life is not one of gritting our teeth

Connor Gwin / 9.7.21

This reflection originally appeared in Daily Grace: The Mockingbird Devotional, Vol. 2:

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 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. (Colossians 3:1-4)

In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther wrote that baptism “indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” Luther is, of course, echoing scripture. The Apostle Paul summarizes the call of every Christian: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

This seems easy enough on paper, but how often have we resolved to do something (set your mind on things above, eat right, stop resenting your jabroni of a brother-in-law, etc.) and immediately failed? What hope do we have that we can actually set our minds on things above? Alone, we have no hope, but Paul offers a glimmer of light through this seemingly dark pronouncement: that we have already died and been raised.

The Christian life is not one of gritting our teeth to focus on or do the right things. The Christian life is a letting-go, a dying; a loosening grip to let the grace and mercy of God rest on us and work through us. Our life is hidden with Christ and will be revealed in glory on the Last Day. Until that time we must be reminded every day (or minute or second) that the small “me,” the Old Adam, the false self, has died — and the true self, the me that is known to God, has been raised with Christ. May this serve as your reminder for today (or for this moment).