This is post number 2 in an extended discussion of chapter 8 in Andy Farmer’s book Real Peace: What we Long for and Where to Find It. Last time we looked at Colossians 3:1-4 and pondered the question about what our relational conflicts would be like if we daily set our thoughts on things above where Christ, our life, is seated.
Unfortunately, for all of us, we struggle mightily to seek the things above and set our minds there. All too often we find ourselves reflecting the truths of Colossians 3:5-7 rather than the previous verses. Colossians 3:5-7 state:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked when you were living in them. (ESV)
The things we to put to death in this passage are our earthly, selfish cravings. You see, peace is not possible when we put our earthly cravings on the throne of our lives. That is our natural tendency – to put our self and what our self wants on the throne. If we are not careful, the craving of our hearts can quickly become the true gods in our lives. They can become the idols we pursue and worship. In choosing earthly things, we turn away from true peace. In those times, we settle for much less than shalom, the wholeness and well-being God offers in Christ.
You see, when our cravings rule, conflict will abound. What does James 4:1-4 tell us?
What causes quarrels and what cause fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (ESV)
The passions James speaks about here are hidden deep in our hearts. While we have been given new life and a renewed heart in Jesus, those old habits and selfish ways of doing things raise their ugly heads far too often than we are comfortable with. In times of frustration, times of stress, in our earthly plotting and planning the things we are to put to death are all too alive in our hearts. And the saddest thing about all of this is that these things, the earthly cravings of our hearts, cannot truly satisfy our hearts. They are merely poor substitutes of the satisfaction, the joy and the peace found in Christ.
Following our passions, our selfish desires, and our earthly cravings will always result in more conflict and less peace in our lives in the long term. What is it that you need put to death? What is the idol of your heart, the true reason you do and say what you do and say? Those things were crucified on the cross with Christ. The power of those things to rule our lives has been broken. We are no longer slaves to sin, but rather have been freed to practice righteousness. As a result, we need to daily lay our earthly cravings before the throne of God. Seek victory in His power. Ask for the spiritual awareness to recognize these things in our lives and the spiritual will to submit them to the transforming work of God. Always remember that God has begun a good work in you and He is committed to completing it at the day of Christ Jesus.