Our New Life in Christ
Pastor Oliver exhorts us to seek and set our minds on things that are above.
I'm sure many of you have membership cards. The cards tell you that you are a member of a chain of restaurants or of a retail outlet. As members, you are different from non-members. You have certain privileges. But with the many memberships available, do you sometimes forget that you are a member? I have failed to remember that I'm a member and ended up paying the full price without the discount. The church at Colossae has also failed to remember. They were keeping specific regulations and mystical rituals, adding to what they have in Christ. In adding to Christ, the Colossian church has forgotten who they were and the privileges they have—that they have been raised with Christ and have their life hidden in Christ.
Paul reminds them in Colossians 3:1, "If then you have been raised with Christ". Paul tells them they have been raised with Christ. When did this happen? When the Colossian believers trusted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. When they believed in Christ, they died to sin and to things of the world and are raised to life with Christ. You see, you and I are joined to Jesus Christ when we trusted in Him. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, indwells us, and we are united to Jesus Christ. So Paul was making a conditional statement "If then" but the answer is a resounding "yes". The believers at Colossae have been "raised with Christ". This is the wondrous truth for us Christians as well. We have been raised with Christ. Past tense. Done deal. It's a fact for us.
If this is true, then what are we to do? We are to "seek the things that are above", and we are to "set [our] minds on things that are above" (Col 3:1-2). Firstly, we are to seek. The idea is to try to get or reach for something you desire. If you can see your hearts clearly, you would see that what we seek dominates and shapes our life. What you and I seek determines what we think about, how we spend time, the decisions and choices we make. But here is the grace and power of the Christian life: having been raised with Christ, our “seeking” is given a whole new direction. Seek the things that are above.
Look upward. Paul spoke earlier in Colossians 1:5 of “the hope laid up for you in heaven”. Your new life has a direction and a goal, a purpose and an end that is magnificent. Lift your eyes. Lift your heart. Look where you are headed. Seek the things above. The reason we who are united to Christ can and must do so is that “above” is where Christ is. To seek the things above is to seek Christ, to pursue all that Christ is. Since we have been raised with Him, the whole of our lives must be reordered to “seek” Him. As we “seek”, Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God, continues to intercede for us. Can you picture this? Even as we are commanded to seek, Christ prays for us that we find Him whom we seek.
Secondly, we are to "set [our] minds on things that are above”. It has the idea that we are to concentrate; to direct our attention and thoughts to things that are above. We would easily misunderstand "things that are above, not on things that are on earth". Could Paul be possibly suggesting that if you are going to take your Christian life seriously, that you cannot be in a particular vocation? You cannot possibly be a doctor or a lawyer or a businessman or, for that matter, a mother, a father, a husband, a wife? All of these require serious attention to things in this world. As the rest of chapter 3 unfolds, it becomes quite clear that to set your minds on "the things above and not on the things on the earth", does not in fact mean lack of interest in life in this world. What, he means by “the things that are that are on earth” becomes apparent when he uses that exact phrase again in Colossians 3:5 translated in the ESV as "what is earthly", and lists the earthly stuff that we are not to fill our minds with. Our minds, our thinking, our understanding are to be focused and informed by the things above, by Christ, the reigning Messiah King. Understanding this will transform and empower our lives in this world so that we live lives pleasing to God.
How are we going to do that? It will involve the deliberate and intentional turning of our minds and our affections to Christ, in such a way that He becomes the shaping power of our lives. How do we do what the words in these verses tell us to do? The first way is simply daily Bible reading and prayer. Get into the Word of God daily and pray. Let God's Word inform and direct your mind. Read the Bible yourself or with others. There are many other ways in which we respond to the call to "set our minds on things above". These include times of meeting together with other believers in our church. The conversations of believers with one another ought to push us to seek the things that are above. In fact, one way to do this is to gather in our first "hybrid" (virtual and in-person) prayer meeting on Friday 30 Oct 2020. Setting your mind on the things that are above is not something that just happens. It is something to which we are called to do because we have been raised with Christ.
And this makes all the difference. The basis for our "seeking" and "setting" is not something in addition to Christ. "For [we] have died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3) The grace, power and motivation for our seeking and setting come because we have died to "earthy things". We died to our "old life" of sin. Our "old life" is over. And our new life is "hidden" or secure with Christ in God.
But this is not the only thing we have to look forward to. "When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Col 3:4) This is not like when you are house hunting and see the photos on the webpage. Most times, you will find that the reality of the apartment is a let-down. Not so for us! The truth for us is glorious! The day is coming when that reality will be revealed when Christ, who is our life appears. When Christ finally appears, because you have died with Him and been raised with Him, then you also will appear. Then you will be displayed, with Him in wondrous glory.
What is now hidden will no longer be so. Paul is speaking of that day when Jesus Christ will come in glory. On that day He will be seen as He really is, and our now-hidden life in Him will also be seen for what it really is: glorious! We will be perfectly Christlike, reflecting Christ gloriously! The point is that what will be revealed on that day is already real right now. We have died with Christ. We have been raised with Him. We live with Him. We will appear with Him. The power of the Christian life that puts all other forces in their place is the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who now reigns at God's right hand, and will one day appear in glory.
How do you live in a manner that is pleasing to God now that you are a Christian? You are to seek and set your minds on things above because you have already been raised with Christ! So what are we to do right now in response? My friends, I urge you, consider how the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ have affected you and let this truth influence your minds, affections and actions!
- There will be an English Congregation Meeting this Sunday 18 Oct at 11am, as we come together as a congregation to vote to affirm Tan Chong Tien as an elder. Please pray for us as a church as we come together to seek God’s will and direction. Pray that our decision and process will honour God!
- Come join us in our Prayer Meeting on Friday 30 Oct from 8-9.30pm. Let’s come together as we respond to the call to "set our minds on things above". The Zoom Details: https://tinyurl.com/prayermeeting-oct30.
- Join us 9am this Sunday for our Worship Service. If you cannot join us live (we still have a limit capped of 100 persons), do join us for our livestream on YouTube. We will look at Luke 13:10-21 “Surprised by God’s Kingdom”. Pray for God’s Spirit to prepare our hearts even now as we read the scripture passage a few times before Sunday.