1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, 7 and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. 8 But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. 11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. — Colossians 3:1-17
Put On the Character of Your Identity: Raised with Christ
Long ago, in my fifth-grade class in Gallatin, TN, the school put on a fair of sorts. Each grade displayed various projects so that doting parents and grandparents could meander through the school and celebrate the work of their children. Our class got the distinct privilege of dressing up like the character in our presentation. Since I had chosen Samuel Langhorne Clemens as my subject matter, also known as Mark Twain, I needed a really good costume.
My mother helped secure a facemask with the wispy windblown gray hair and ginormous mustache, along with a tweed jacket and pants. But my younger brother quickly pointed out that no matter what my outward appearance proclaimed, my stance and the manner in which I sat—with my legs daintily crossed—gave away my true identity as a young girl underneath it all.
So he taught me how to stand like a man, upright with my feet apart, toes slightly angled out, shoulders back, and my hands clasped in front of me or in my pant pockets. When sitting, I needed to separate my knees and point them to the front corners of the chair and lean back. Finally, he taught me how to somewhat grunt my polite responses of “Yes ma’am” or “Yes sir” in order to disguise my voice.
When the day of the school fair arrived, I delighted in my new identity and embraced every aspect, determined to make people wonder. I refused to give my name, and no one guessed it. However, at the end of the day, my identity returned to being a young girl again.
But God paints a very different story for us in His Word. Once we are hidden with Christ in God, our old identity dies. Yes, dies. The old identity never returns. Not only do we put off our worldly, sinful nature, but we put on our new nature of “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and faithfulness.” Our new, secure identity awakens us to a whole new way of living.
As God’s chosen, we put on love and embrace unity in the church. We forgive others because we recognize how much Christ forgave us. Our new identity takes place as soon as we receive Christ as our Lord, and yet we are still “being renewed.” So, while our identity completely changed, we spend the rest of our lives learning how to embrace our new identity and live according to who we already are because of all Christ has done.
As with anything new, we celebrate and give thanks. We recognize all Christ has done and praise Him through every word uttered and deed done. Our attitudes, words, thoughts, and actions begin looking more and more like Christ, as our already-declared identity of God’s “holy and loved” seeps deep into our hearts and changes us to put on the very character of one raised with Christ.
- What actions, attitudes, thoughts, and words from your identity before Christ continue to creep into your life?
- How does thankfulness for what Christ has done to change your identity motivate and encourage you to work toward “being renewed”?
- If “being renewed” is understood as an ongoing process in our lives, how are you actively seeking to be renewed? What changes need to be made?
By God's grace, Heather hopes to live by Micah 6:8, "...to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." For almost as long as she can remember, she has shared the truth of Jesus. In the second grade after accepting Christ as her Savior, Heather excitedly invited her best friend at school to join her the next day in serving Jesus. She continues inviting people with a deep desire to bring people to know Christ as their Savior and to teach those who know Him to love Him more.
In 2003, Heather followed God's call on her life to leave a job in the financial industry and pursue a Master of Divinity through Southern Seminary, a degree which took ten years due to accepting a job as a High School Discipleship Pastor and some difficult life situations. Through it all, she learned the names of God in deep, personal ways through brokeness and to echo Job's cry in Job 42:5-6, "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." After a season of being a stay-at-home "bonus" mom to two fantastic bonus children, as well as serving alongside her husband, Michael Norvell, Heather joyfully joined the Discipleship team at Brentwood Baptist as an intern in January 2017.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.