Setting Your Mind on Things Above
I want to challenge you this morning to read Colossians 3:1-17. Yes, a whole 17 verses. I believe you can do it. I have confidence in you. And yes, I realize my devotions are long like my sermons. As I read this chapter this morning, I feel it really comprehensively offers each of us wisdom and guidance as we walk the roads we walk today, whether it be COVID-19, race relations, quarantining, social distancing and the like. Not that these have simple solutions, but wisdom as we navigate these to the glory fo God and the good of the body.
If I could offer some guidance or an outline of sorts for your reading, it would look like this, as I think Paul builds his argument and puts the parts together like a puzzle. Culminating in Col. 3:17 and setting the stage for what we see in the rest of the letter to the Colossians:
Set your minds on the things above and not on the things below. WHY? This is where our citizenship dwells, our Savior dwells, and one day where we will dwell. This keeps us focused. Makes what we do here make sense as it is easy to lose sight of long range goals or destinations. This is where we are headed, what we are all about.
If I can use a silly illustration of sorts, it may look similar to some who have a picture of a retirement home they are working towards, or maybe a picture of a car they are saving towards. They keep this handy so when the tough times come, when they are tempted to let up or quit, they recalibrate their minds and thus re-focus and get back to work, because they are reminded again it is all worth it. Glory is coming. The fullness of our salvation is coming.
Until then, keep your minds there, on the end and goal. Don't let your minds dwell on all the junk we face today and deal with, the sin of this world that is not our home and that we have been redeemed from. Seek the things above and think on the things above where Christ is and one day believers will be. It starts with our minds. Fix them on the prize. Don't get distracted about whose and who we are and where we are headed.
As we fix our minds on the prize and who we are and will be fully in Christ, next we conform our lives now to who we are in Christ and what we will be fully one day. We in faith lay aside the things and nature of this world and that which characterizes this world. Anything that doesn't align with who we are in Christ, attitudes and actions, we lay them aside. Put aside the old self, the old nature, the old you. Put on the new you who is now in Christ and one day will dwell eternally with Christ in Heaven. Look simply at v. 8. What a difference this would make even today and the times we live in. These deal with pretty much everything we face today and how our flesh tends to respond. Put it away. See yourself as in Christ, which you are believer, and then live in light of that reality. Even v. 11 - no distinctions between people based upon externals, but one simple goal - Christ is all in all. Is someone in Christ or not? That is the main thing that should divide in the grand scheme of things. Dictates everything else. Anything that doesn't align with Christ and our new position in Christ, lay it aside for the good of Christ and the body.
This section continues what we saw in vv. 5-11, with more specifics. Look at what this section calls for, all in light of who we are in Christ, and think about the impact this would have on our body as believers and the world around us - from our actions, to posts and likes on Facebook, to how we handle disagreements and such, everything is informed and guided here.
Starts with seeing ourselves and each other thru the gospel, and then put on that same heart character towards one another. This is not about you, not about your agenda, not about this world's agenda. Believer - you are other worldly, and are called to live as such. Loving as we have been loved in the gospel. Forgiving as we have been forgiven in the gospel. Bearing with one another in patience as God has and is patient with us. Helping shape one another in Christ. Together. Unified in Christ and this picture of who we are in Christ.
Most of all, letting love for one another reign. And look at the fruit of this: unity and peace. When we bite and devour each other, we are hurting the very body we are a part of. We are hurting ourselves, even killing ourselves. Sure, you may think you have won your argument over masks or no masks, or stats about how many people are killed and such and how the media is this or that. I have and I am sure you have heard them all, but in the end when this is our focus and where our minds and conversations are, the BODY LOSES. Therefore all believers lose. I am not saying we don't have conversations, but what I am saying is that ultimately what we see here must rule and reign over these conversations.
It is not about you. It is about the glory of God and the good of the body. So that might mean we shut our mouths because the argument we want to win will only divide, and in the end the good of the body should win out. And in fact, winning our argument and arguing over some of this stuff only violates love and what we saw specifically in v. 8 and 12.
Can you say that the characteristics we see here mark your life and your posts and your conversations? And when we fall short, and we will and do, what about forgiving? Bearing with one another? No complaints against each other?
Keep your minds on the things above. Live in light of this.
Lastly, all of this flows thru the Word richly dwelling within us and seeking to do everything to the glory of God. This is not a flesh accomplished endeavor. You won't do this on your own and in your own strength, and you were not meant to, for then you would get the glory. This will only happen when the Word richly dwells in us. When we seek the glory of the Lord more than all else. When we make it our ambition to live in light of who we are in Christ. When we keep our minds on the things above an not full of media headlines.
So, maybe when we don't see these happening, that might be a diagnostic on our hearts and minds, and what we love most, and where our minds dwell most and what is controlling us, flesh versus Spirit..
Prayerfully and full of the Word, seek the things above. Treat and pursue people how you have been first treated and pursued in the gospel by God. Loving, forgiving, bearing up with, long-suffering. All to the glory of God and the unity and peace of the body.
Much is at stake here. May we live as those who have been chosen by God to the glory of God and the good of the body. Doing all in the name of our great God and in line with who we are in Christ.