Comments from Colossians (1:1-2)

“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.  We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.” (Colossians 1:1-2; New Living Translation)

Who are you, really?

Identity issues are front and center in our day, more than any time in living memory. Some people grapple deeply with their sexual identity (straight, gay, transgender, other). Others have more traditional struggles: Who am I? Does anyone care? Do I matter? What gives me value?

IdentityFor most of us, various elements shape our identity; male/female, husband/wife, father/mother, educated/uneducated, wealthy/poor, worker, homemaker, coach, teacher, volunteer, etc. Each “role” contributes to our identity, and represents another hat that we wear.

As the Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Christians at Colosse, his opening comments relate to identity; his and theirs.

On the one hand, Paul identifies himself as chosen by God to be an apostle (missionary). On the other hand, he identifies the Christians at Colosse as God’s holy people (saints) and faithful brothers and sisters because of Christ. Something quite dramatic had happened to him…and them.

Following Christ is not like taking out membership at the local gym or quilting guild. It makes a profound and fundamental change to everything. Elsewhere, Paul describes this change in dramatic terms: A new creation whereby old things have passed and entirely new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We are no longer who we once were. Our redemption by Christ means that we have an entirely new vocation (calling) and identity. No longer do the usual categories apply in the same way. We are not primarily Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, citizen or refugee, slave or freeman (Colossians 3:11).

Our new identity transcends everything we have experienced before. It doesn’t eliminate everything else, but it relegates it all to a secondary position.

This may be one of the least understood and most poorly appropriated truths in contemporary Christianity. Our first and chief identity now rests as being the beloved people of God and therefore brothers and sisters to each other. Everything else springs from that starting point.

Some think of Christianity as a religious system. Others view it as nothing more than another government survey category. But Paul defines it in radical new ways. Christianity, first and foremost, re-defines our core identity. We are now the people and family of God. Until we embrace this identity deeply, the usual struggles will continue and we’ll treat each other indifferently.

Who are you, really? Christ alone gives us the clarity that changes everything.

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4 Responses to Comments from Colossians (1:1-2)

  1. Nonda Brown says:

    Thank you for reminding me where my identity lies!

  2. Ross Burton says:

    Hi David,
    it’s a long time since we ‘talked’.
    As I’ve deliberately considered my own identity in Christ this has caused me to ponder quite seriously Paul and his identity in Christ. I have developed the idea that ‘Saul of Tarsus’ Damascus Road conversion experience’ was incredibly dramatic because Saul was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a stubbornly focused killer of Christians etc., etc.His culture was so deeply entrenched in the Mosaic (Talmudic & resultant Mishnaic) law and the lifestyle which emanated. His 3 day transition or, energy blasting introduction to the ‘culture of being a Christ’s One’ would I believe have been almost indescribably dramatic for him and maybe greater than the Heavenly Light shattering vision with which he was confronted on the Damascus Road. Of course, one was the precursor for the other! I also have developed the thought that his blindness was part of that healing, transition process in which he was, exiting from legalism into Grace. Not being able to visually sight anything would cause or enable him to focus much more intently upon Whom it was who had radically met Him on that roadway and brought clarification and Truth to all of his acquired and legal Old Testament knowledge.

    .In this process I’m guessing that he also had to deal with all of his past teaching and education which shaped him as a Pharisee. Gamaliel’s teachings were not to be taken lightly because he was the leading educator in the world of his day. To be a student of Gamaliel would have been such a honoring, status showering symbol over and above the quality education and learning which one would receive. All of this needed to be and I suggest was being adjusted in those 3 days after meeting Jesus on the road. .
    It’s hard to imagine how he dealt with his prejudices in that 3 day period.But, the work of the Holy Spirit in and upon him was so powerful and empowering that I suggest that his testimony was instant and became continuous.
    I see these experiences, molded by the Holy Spirit, as being the basis for Paul becoming such an exponent of the Grace of God, in which he genuinely reveled. I see his legalistic background as the perfect basis from which to unleash on the New Testament world the saving Grace of The Loving Saviour. And who wouldn’t become such an exponent after being released from so much legalism by the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit ministering the Justifying, Redeeming Victory of Jesus death at Calvary.

    • David Timms says:

      I love it, Ross! Thanks for sharing. And to think that we can share the same deliverance experience from law into grace!! I hope you’re thriving. Blessings, my friend.

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