“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:1-4
When you realize where all eternity is headed and that you’re headed right there with it, your priorities shift. What matters to you gets reshuffled. You don’t just go with the flow of the world or the culture. When you become a Christian, you do more hard thinking — not less. You are required to use more of your brain — not less. Set your minds on things above.
A good way to keep your new-life focus sharp is to ask questions.
1 – What Would Jesus Do?
It becomes so much easier to answer this question with confidence, regardless of the circumstance, the more time you spend in the Gospels. Reading the words of our Lord, contemplating his actions and responses, reflecting on the motivations for his deeds, digesting his teachings, understanding his goals — this helps so much in training your mind and your heart to think and act more like Christ. Not just the particulars, although, those are very important. But how the particulars add up to a more complete comprehension of the bigger picture. As the “exact representation” of God — if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father — what would Jesus do is the same question as what is God doing? What is God’s will in this situation? How can my behavior match God’s behavior?
2 – What’s Best for the Community?
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry… You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” ~Colossians 3:5-11
You used to live in these ways before you were raised in Christ. Your focus used to be on meeting your own needs and satisfying your own growling appetites; protecting yourself and defending your honor and fighting for your rights; getting your own way. But not anymore. Your focus is flipped. Your mind is set on things above, where Christ is. You view the whole world now, and the people in it, from the perspective of eternity.
The main example here is treating all people equally in the Body of Christ. Here, in Christ, racial differences don’t matter. Cultural differences don’t matter. National differences, gender differences, political and economic differences — they don’t matter! Christ is all, and is in all!
All of us possess the fullness of God in Christ, so we look beyond the world’s walls and the worldly barriers to focus on our holy unity and community in Christ.
3 – How Do I Participate in the Future Reality Right Now?
We know God is working through Christ to reconcile all people together forever. We know Jesus died on the cross to destroy the barriers between us and God and between us and other people. So that’s what we do, too. We tear down walls, we destroy barriers; we never work to divide, we always seek to unite. We know that on that great day of Christ’s glory there will be no more tears, no more hunger, no more sickness or pain. That’s the coming reality that cannot be stopped. “The old order of things has passed away! Behold, I am making all things new! It is finished!”
So we lean into it now. We practice it together now. We feed the hungry, we shelter the homeless, we comfort the grieving, and we heal the sick.
We know that someday nations will no longer practice war and death will be eternally defeated. So we adapt ourselves now to that coming reality by beating our swords into plowshares and being people of peace. We renounce all violence and become bearers of peace.
Eternal life is not a quantity of life that begins when you die, it is a quality of life that begins when you are raised with Christ. The peace of Christ in your heart rules everything you do. The Word of Christ in you rules everything you say. Word and deed, it is all said and done in the name and manner of our risen and coming Lord Jesus Christ.