“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 hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
The book of Colossians seems to get overlooked at times because of the power of its two big brothers Ephesians and Galatians. Yet, the book is filled to the brim with encouragement and assurance. Take the four verses we are going to look at in this post and you could find a half dozen theological discussion points each leading back to Jesus.
In the first two chapters of the book Paul has presented the true teachings of the gospel now beginning in verse one he gives an explanation of what it means to live consistently with the truth of that Gospel. The chief work of a Christian is to keep his relationship with Christ. We may hear the Gospel, but if we don’t continue to grow in our understanding of it we will never be able to transform our faith into a life of love and compassion.
In the first eight verses of chapter one Paul lays out four imperatives of Christian spirituality, but we will only have space to look at the first two in this post and will write about the second two in the following post on Monday.
Paul begins by telling us that we are to, “seek the things that are above.” In chapter 2:20 Paul asks, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?” If we are dead to the world then we, “have been raised with Christ,” and are to live as spiritual men and women. John Stott, in his commentary on Colossians writes, “Set free from such subjectivism, the Christian is, simply, a man who has been granted a relationship with the exalted Christ at the right hand of God.” The Message of Colossians and Philemon, pg. 134 We are to pursue that relationship with God by focusing our attention on the things from above. A Christian is one who is constantly looking up and drawing close to the throne of grace. This is amazing encouragement for us as Christians. We have been shaken free from the powers of Satan and now find our comfort and assurance in Christ who is seated at the right hand of God.
Again I must quote Scott, “ Christ is now victorious over all the principalities and powers that would keep us from God. In union and fellowship with the Lord, the Christian is set free from the tyranny of the elementary spirits and for the perennial enjoyment of God’s presence. Now, nothing can hold him to the unsatisfying shadow of religion.” The Message of Colossians and Philemon, Pg. 135 We, through Jesus, have access to God and are welcome in Christ’s name.
Paul also writes, “set your minds on things that are above.” (2a) This is Paul’s second great imperative to us. We not only are to seek the spiritual things of God, but we are to focus upon them and allow them to transform our thinking. The second part of verse two continues, “not on things that are on earth.” (2b) This is the great tension for every Christian. If we are to grow spiritually and find assurance and comfort in the spiritual, then the temporal cannot control our thoughts and actions.
In verse three Paul reminds the Colossians that they can only turn their back on the earthly when they understand their relationship with Jesus. “For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Paul goes on to state, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (v. 4) We are hidden in Christ spiritually and thus the life of Christ will be lived out in us. As Christians we are to seek the spiritual things of God and then allow them to permeate our lives in such a way that the wondrous transforming power of God to save us will be manifested to all who care to see.