Seward United Methodist Church
Monday, July 06, 2020
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Easter Sunday April 12, 2020

 Colossians 3:1-4

In 1967, the musical “Hair” popularized the idea of the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” The Woodstock festival, a couple years later, was called by some an “Aquarian movement.” You see, some astrologers say that planet earth has moved into a new age, having progressed from the constellation Pisces to that of Aquarius. This new age is characterized by peace and love, and by less focus on material things. There’s the idea of transcendence, an escape from the material. I’m not sure I see the evidence of that.

This was certainly not the first time that such an idea was popularized. Almost 2500 years earlier, the Greek philosopher, Plato, in his great work, “Republic,” composed the “allegory of the cave.” Plato described humans being born as prisoners in a cave. The things we experience are not real things, only reflections of real things cast onto the walls of the cave. According to Plato, only a philosopher is capable of escaping from the cave and going up to the real world above and seeing things as they truly are.

Some have suggested Paul had Plato in mind when he wrote these verses. Colosse was a culturally Greek city in modern day Turkey. And Paul was certainly familiar with Greek culture and thought. He was a pretty smart cookie, that Paul. And there are certainly some similarities here: “We have been raised (brought up out of the earth) to new life with Christ.”

Now the first thing I want you to see here is that this new life is not a future possibility, but a present reality. It’s something we’re already living if we are in Christ.

The resurrection of Christ is the dawning of a new age, not the procession of the earth from Pisces to Aquarius. And as new people, we set our sights on the realities and priorities of heaven. This means that the resurrection of Jesus is not some ancient, isolated historical event that no longer has relevance to daily life. Instead, the resurrection of Christ is the start of a great new age. And every time a person gives his or her life to Christ as Lord and Savior, it continues to be a new and relevant event, and not ancient history.

“Let heaven fill up your thoughts and don’t just think about things here on earth.” This is not an instruction that we are to go around with our heads in the proverbial clouds or that we should withdraw from the world. We’ve done enough of that lately! And certainly, some Christians have done just those things. They have acted

like the problems of this world are not their concern or not bothered to have any voice or influence in the world. It’s like they’ve gone off to live in a monastery somewhere and ignore everything else. That’s not what Paul is telling us here.

Rather, this is a command to engage with the world from a different perspective. We are not to engage with the world from the world’s perspective, but from God’s perspective. What are God’s priorities? What transformation does God want to see in the world? How can we make our temporary home look more like our permanent home?

Jesus told us that this world is not our permanent home. Our permanent home is with him. But just because you aren’t staying somewhere permanently doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make it better. I’ve spent 30 years of my life now doing backpacking, canoe tripping, and wilderness camping. One of the things I learned when I started out is to make every place you’ve been better. So we clean up the campsites we use in the backcountry. We make them better places. Even if we’re only “passing through,” we still try to make a place better. That should be our attitude toward the world we live in. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” What would it look like if God’s reign on earth was truly as it is in heaven?

Christ rising from the dead means that life can’t go on as “normal.” We must work to transform the world around us because heaven fills our minds. If heaven fills our minds then we can’t be content living in a world that doesn’t look at all like heaven. We can’t be content living in a world full of evil, injustice, and oppression.

Back in the 1960s, those who envisioned a “dawning of the Age of Aquarius” spoke of transcendence. Well, if we serve Jesus as Lord and Savior, then we have a relationship with a “transcendent” person, one who has truly “risen above” the world. Likewise, we who have risen from the old life must transcend, rise above, the ordinary. We died with Christ. We are risen to new life. We no longer live by the same values or priorities as the world.

“If you died when Christ died, your real life is hidden with Christ.” If something is hidden, then it is safe and secure. There is safety in Christ. We no longer have to follow in the patterns of the world if we are safe in Christ.

The world tries to find “life” in material possessions, in achievements of various kinds, in experiences, and so on. Now we are certainly tempted to find “life” in these

things, too. Or at least I know I am. But we are free from the need to find life in these things. We are “out of the cave,” to use Plato’s terminology; out of the tomb to use a more Christian phrasing! We are free in Christ. Christ is not just the most important thing in life; Christ is life.

The world is going to keep running after all these things. I know those folks in the 60s thought that the “Age of Aquarius” was the end of all that, but I have news for them: People are still running after all those things, still trying to find life in them. As the saying goes, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” But Jesus offers a way out of the rat race. “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.” In Christ, we can be a new creation. We can live a new life.

Christ is risen! And we can rise in him.

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