Preoccupied with Christ
As we continue to look at Colossians 3:1-4, let us consider this truth this morning, that reorienting our lives around the truth of Christ begins our minds being PREOCCUPIED with Christ and who we are in Him by grace thru faith in the gospel. It is here that our lives begin to become powerful overflows that present Christ as unrivaled before a watching world.
If we are honest, there are many things every day that compete for our attention and affection. Especially now: COVID-19, election, race relations, you name it. The list goes on and on of things that battle for our attention and attempt to occupy prime real estate in our minds. The battle here is for our preoccupation, our heart and mind, because we follow what we dwell on. Our hearts and minds follow what we dwell on. We live out what we dwell on. That is what Paul is saying here.
It is so easy for all of us to let our minds become fixed on things other than who we are in Christ – things like our sin, guilt, lies we have been told, things we have been deceived about, our circumstances, all earthly and temporal things. When we go here, we are prone to falling prey to trusting in everything the false teachers put forth – rules, angels, traditions, trying to gain spiritual fullness on our own, putting our hope in an elected official or political party – all shadows of Christ, all things that are destined to perish and have no strength against the flesh. And these things fight for our preoccupation when our preoccupation is to be on Christ and His work, things above, not the things of man and this world.
What Paul says here is more than fleeting or passing thoughts towards who we are in Christ. Believers are commanded to dwell intently on the things above. Paul uses this verb “to think” 23 times in his writings. Huge. What Paul is saying here is that as we dwell on who we are in Christ thru the gospel, our minds are transformed to find joy in obedient submission to God’s will. Look at Romans 12:1-3. Do you see the connection? The idea of orientation shows up here again in verse 2. Orienting ourselves around who we are in Christ. Reasonable response to the gospel.
Look at Phil. 4:8-9. Right thoughts lead to right practice all based upon who you are in Christ. Looking at the gospel transforms us. Dwelling on who we are in Christ transforms us. Why? Because Christ has defeated everything that poses a threat to us here on earth. Satan is a defeated foe. Nothing can separate us from God’s love because of the gospel. Christ is our hope and remains our hope.
Satan seeks to distract us from a heavenly preoccupation thru the things of this earth – sin, suffering, worry, doubts, fears, circumstances, politics – all things sourced in earth and temporal. And Satan seeks to use these to take our focus and worship off of Christ, the one and only rightful recipient of our worship.
Anyone ever heard the saying, or even said the saying, that says “he or she is so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”? I get what people are trying to say when they say this, though I rarely if ever have met someone so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.
What Paul says here in Colossians 3:2 and even verses 1-4 as a whole would put forth exactly the opposite approach to our lives, and dare I say Biblical truth, that our problem is that we are not heavenly minded enough and so we end up being no earthly good. The reality I think we would all agree to is that we don’t think of the gospel and who we are in Christ enough.
Believers are to allow their identity in Christ to create a new mentality in them that is Christ focused so that we can be effective here on earth. The gospel and our salvation become the filter through which we interpret everything. New realm in which we dwell. We need our minds renewed to this reality, hearts revived to this reality. This only happens through God’s Word and the work of the Spirit in our lives so that we are useful here on earth.
See Gal. 2:20. The fact that Paul had died with Christ fueled his present living. A new identity led to a new mentality and thus new way of life. All sourced in who he was thru the lens of the gospel. Dead to the old, alive to the new.
We need a new perspective and mentality on how we view all of life. We need to focus on Christ in the midst of this world, not seek to escape this world or make this world our home by settling in and being too comfortable and focused on the things of this world. We are here on mission. Hebrews 12:1-2 stuff. Fix our eyes on our Lord and commanding officer and His promises in the gospel. Filter everything through the promises of God that are ours thru the gospel. Knowing nothing can separate us from these.