So we've discussed how the New Testament, especially the Epistles, has two underlying assumptions when it discusses the Christian life:
- we have experienced new birth
- we are abiding in Christ
So really the Christian life is the work of God in me, as opposed to my efforts. But we've already discussed how Christianity is really a sort of active passivity: I can't do it myself, but God expects me to be onboard.
There really is human responsibility in the New Testament: I'm not going to experience what God has for me in Christ if I just decide to sit on my sofa with football and beer and wait for Christ to work in me. That might be a better approach than what most Christians are trying, but it's not really what we're called to.
I've tried the "football and beer" approach to Christianity. It doesn't work, because it denies my identification with Christ. Scripture says I have died with Christ (Galatians 2:19–20, Colossians 3:3). It says I've died to sin (Romans 6:11), to the Law (Romans 7:4), and to the world (Galatians 6:14). If I just sink into the world, then I'm really denying that I've died to it. How do I expect my life to look, if I deny in practice what Scripture asserts is the starting point? I've put myself into a position God will not bless.
No, I'm not speaking out against football or baseball or even hockey. But I am saying that if we live like we're alive in the world, then find ourselves in Romans 8:12–13. We find ourselves returning to what we've supposedly left behind. I can say from personal experience that it's possible to go from Romans 8:3 to Romans 8:13 shockingly quickly.
Colossians 3:1–4 is a powerful description of the Christian life. It starts out with the command to "seek those things above, where Christ is." Why? Because my life here has ended. My life is up there now, and I ought to be paying attention to that.
Several years ago I was talking with my daughter about baptism. She was probably six or seven at the time, and I was telling her that baptism really means "I'm done with this world". She said to me, "So what you're saying is that we're here on a business trip, not a vacation."
Think about that: we're here on business, not on a holiday. Yes, we live here. Yes, we have certain responsibilities here. Yes, there is even a sense of godly worldliness (1 Corinthians 7:32–34). But we're not called to make this our home, nor our source of joy, nor our source of meaning. We're here on business, not pleasure.
Robert pointed out 2 Corinthians 3:18. As far as I know, that's the only verse in Scripture that actually tells us how to be like Christ. What does it say? If you want to be like Christ, you need to look at Him. (And someday we'll get a really good look, 1 John 3:2.) Isn't that just what Colossians 3:1 is saying?
There's a lot more to be said, but this seems like the place to stop for now.