“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above” (Colossians 3:1a).

By God’s grace, many Scripture passages, like the one above, are familiar to me. Raised in a Christian home, with a Lutheran elementary education, continued study through Bible classes and as a Sunday school teacher, and life as a pastor’s wife, I have been blessed to have God’s Word and will a part of my everyday life.

Yet, how miserably I fail to let it govern my attitudes and activities! The simple phrase, “you have been raised in Christ,” has a meaning and a power that are all too easy to miss. Consider:  Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, himself both man and God, endured bodily life on earth, living perfectly in every aspect of every moment of that life, then died the death—physical and spiritual—that I deserve, then by his own power took back his life, thereby demonstrating his authority over all things, even death and Satan. That in itself is truly amazing. That is the story of God’s plan of salvation.

And, by God’s grace, I know and believe that! But Paul writes in Colossians that I have been raised with Christ! What can that mean? I am still living in this wicked world, subject to the temptations of my weak flesh, the distractions of worldly things, and the lies of the great Deceiver. How have I been “raised with Christ?” It is as Luther wrote in Baptism Part Four, “The old Adam in us should be drowned by daily contrition and repentance….that a new person should daily arise to live…in righteousness and purity.”

Much as the new creature within me wants to live a life of ordered priorities, with my Lord governing all I desire and do, yet how quickly I allow the world, my sinful nature, and Satan’s deceits to crowd into my mind and heart and run my life! Instead of setting my heart on eternal things—time in God’s Word, talents given to his work, and wealth shared in support of gospel outreach—all too often my selfish, lazy, covetous, prideful self emerges to take control of my mind and heart. But, God forgives! God strengthens. God guides and guards through his Word.

Every day we need to turn to him in repentance and rejoice in his faithful forgiveness. Every day we need to turn to his Word for power over Satan’s deceits. Every day we need to examine our attitudes and actions in light of God’s will and pray for his guidance to keep him first in all we are and all we do. Then we have his power to rise above worldly distractions and do everything with our eyes fixed on the goal of eternity life—not merely on our own eternal life, but also on the eternal well-being of the billions who do not know Jesus.

We see the urgency of sharing God’s Word within our own families, so that it becomes part of the fabric of our lives. We see the urgency of bringing God’s Word to friends, neighbors, and co-workers who do not know the simple, yet incomprehensible, truth that Jesus did it all. We see the urgency of supporting gospel outreach where we cannot go—taking time to pray for missionaries and unbelievers and to encourage those working full-time in the harvest fields, using the talents God has given us to serve in mission support, and bringing generous gifts to provide for the needs of our synod’s mission efforts.

Already now, while still sinner-saints in this wicked world, we have eternal life! We have been raised above the world to live in it as God’s lights to reflect his love for all people. May God grant us his grace to keep him first every day in all our relationships, in all our work, in all our rest. The risen Christ lives in us! May we live for him.

Karla Jaeger
Milwaukee Metro South Circuit