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Becoming Heavenly Focused

Becoming Heavenly Focused

 

the way

the way

At first glance, today’s focus passage seems to give credence to the saying which Christians are often mocked with; that because we are so heavenly minded we are no earthly good. But what exactly does it mean to ‘set our hearts and minds on things above’? Unfortunately, centuries of dualistic misunderstanding has caused many to assume that when Paul talks about ‘things above’ as opposed to ‘things on earth’ he is adopting a straightforward antithesis between the world of space, time and matter and a pure spiritual existence.

Ironically, this kind of attitude, which has infiltrated the church for time immemorial, could not be further from the truth. When Paul says ‘on earth’ he is referring, as is clear in verses 5-11, to those styles of behaviours which are contrary to God’s original intent for us as human beings created in his image and as such, reflect the current corruption of creation.

What then is Paul saying in Colossians that Christians must do? Answer: he is telling us to develop, in the present, the character which truly anticipates the life of the age to come, so that, as the Lord’s Prayer says, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. These ‘heavenly things’ refer to the qualities of self-giving love, which are the chief characteristics of the life of heaven, simply because heaven is where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. The command to aspire to the things of heaven is a command to reflect upon the kind of Life Christ lived whilst on earth and on the fact that he is now enthroned in heaven as Lord of both heaven and earth.

Surprisingly, the Bible does not say much about heaven. But its central feature is clear: it is the place where the crucified Christ already reigns and where his redeemed people already have full rights of citizenship (cf. Phil. 3:19). To concentrate the mind on the character of Jesus Christ, on that unique blend of self-giving love and strength revealed in the Gospels, is to begin on earth to reflect the very life of heaven.

Colossians 2:20-3:4

Warnings against False Teachers

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe,* why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations,21‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’?22All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.*

The New Life in Christ

3So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.4When Christ who is your* life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

John 14:18-29

18 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’23Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you.26But the Advocate,* the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.28You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

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