This morning I was reading through Colossians once again when I was struck by verses 1-4 of chapter 3. In this passage the apostle Paul writes:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (ESV)
I want you to keep in mind, because it is foundational to what I have to say, that salvation and transformation begins and ends with God. It begins with God’s promise to bless all the nations of the world through Abraham and his descendant, it continues through Christ Jesus (the promised descendant of Abraham), and ends with the return of Jesus and the coming of the Kingdom in all of its glory.
Without God’s initiative, without God’s promise, and without Christ’s faithfulness we would have no hope, no matter what choices we might make. Our hope and our lives are bound up in the actions of our loving heavenly Father.
Yet, that does not mean that we have no part in the transformation process. Paul tells us that there is something that we must do, a choice that we must make. We are to set our minds on the things that are above. This requires an act of the will, for if we don’t choose to set our minds on the things of God, then it will not happen.
So what must we do if we are going to set our minds on the things that are above? First, it requires us to get rid of the negative and earthly things that grab our attention and focus. It means going through our movie collection and chucking those movies that take our hearts down paths that we shouldn’t go. It means buying software that will limit the access that we have online so that we are not tempted to view things that we shouldn’t see. It means saying goodbye to friends that lead us town dark pathways and away from God.
It is not good enough to get rid of the old, but we also have to replace the old with something new. Part of this means that instead of putting junk into our hearts and minds we are putting positive and God-honoring messages into our lives. I think we understand this truth, and many of us have made it this far. We have shunned the negative and we have embraced the positive, but things are still not what they should be. The distractions still come and pull us off course taking us down the paths of sin.
I believe that there is another step that we must take. We have to make the decision to add to our lives certain spiritual disciplines that will help us gain control of the flesh and will help us live more fully by the guidance of the Spirit. We need disciplines like Bible study (private and group), prayer, fasting, simplicity (living a simple life), generosity, and service. Being devoted to these disciplines will allow our hearts to be opened up to God truth, and will make it possible for us to implement that truth to the way we live our lives.
Not only do we have to add spiritual disciplines to our lives, but I think we also have to speak about what God is doing in our lives. So much of the time I think we miss out on what God is doing in our lives because we are not focused on what God is doing in our lives. We miss out on the connection between the changes that are taking place and God’s activity. By speaking out about God and changes in our lives helps us to make that connection, it sharpens our focus on God and His activity in this world, especially His activity in our lives.
God took the initiative to save us from sin and death. Let us respond to that initiative by focusing our lives on the things that come from God. Let us set our minds of the things that are above.