Put on the New Nature… Love

Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:1—4,12-17

Put   off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt   through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put   on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness   and holiness.

If     then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where     Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that     are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your     life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then     we also will appear with him in glory.

  Put
  on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness,
  meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against
  another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must
  forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in
  perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed
  you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 


Let     the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another     in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with     thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed,     do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father     through him.


 

  Reflections
  on the Text
 

  Gathering
  in community is not easy. It requires all of the virtues and strengths listed
  above by St. Paul. But perhaps two particular things could be emphasized. The
  first is the need to have “the word of Christ” dwell in us “richly.” Many of
  us are truly impoverished by our lack of nourishment from God’s word. On the
  other hand, pastors know of those in comas or some forms of senility who respond
  in a seemingly unconscious way to prayer — sometimes reciting the church’s prayers
  when no other rational conversation can take place. What might be the words
  that come “automatically” from our mouths in such a state?The word does not
  dwell in us magically nor haphazardly. It “comes and abides” in us slowly and
  is reinforced by the scriptures, liturgy, prayers, sacraments, and all the other
  ways that God provides. The word quiets us and can also instruct our own conversation
  (Col. 4:5-6). The word can fill us, but it can also challenge us and empty us
  of our self-preoccupations. 

  The
  second point is that the word can come from us in many forms, but the essential
  one is that of thanksgiving. Fr. Alexander Elchaninov reminds us that there
  are “no accidental meetings.” God has allowed us the opportunity of being within
  particular communities. Some of these opportunities have been better than others.
  Yet each one, with its good and its difficult moments, has given us a time and
  place to praise God and be thankful. 

God is our King before the ages, and he has   worked and continues to work his salvation in the midst of the earth (Ps.   74:12). His salvation is worked out from the midst of the community: those   gathered in his name, those who make up his body, those who have been raised   with Christ and have put on the new nature.

 

Relating   the Bible to Our Lives

 
 

1. What are some things for which you would like to   offer thanks? What aspects of your community’s life are reasons for offering   thanks to God? What are some of the ways our thanks to God can be expressed?

 
  Usually we are most thankful for moments and events that have brought happiness
  to us. Think of some things which, while being difficult, had a profound effect
  on you and which may have been a help in “putting off” the old nature.

2.   What is the meaning of the expression: “For you have died and your life is   hid with Christ in God”? What, in fact, do we die to? What does it mean to   hide our life with Christ in God? 

  3.
  Define “peace” generally and elaborate on how the “peace of Christ” can be acquired.
  How does it relate to the work of building up the community? What are the subjects
  of disagreement in your parish? What attitudes and actions, to which St. Paul
  refers (see Col. 3:l2ff.), could help in reducing the disagreement or conflict
  within your parish? What do St. Paul’s words tell you about “setting your minds
  on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” or about “putting
  on the new nature”? 

4. Can you describe the kind of community   that you would wish your children or grandchildren to be part of? Can you   envision your parish becoming that kind of community? List some of the steps   that would help to make this a reality.

  5. In our own lives we belong to
  many kinds of families. One of these, which is our church family, is the parish,
  but just as our own small family is related to many other families, so our church
  family in the parish is related to and is in communion with the larger church
  family of the diocese and the Church as a whole. Are the attitudes and actions
  mentioned in Question 3 necessary for our life in the larger church family?
  How does the wider Church enrich our life as members of the family of God?