By: Rev. Mark James, pastor of Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church in Locust, NC
Too often today we Christians tend to separate our present life from our life to come. This is our life here and now and one day we will have a future life in glory. But Scripturally speaking the life to come is already in the here and now in part. According to Colossians 2 and 3, we have been raised with Christ in the here and now and our lives are hidden in Him so that even now we have a partial experience of the life to come and the kingdom of God. But we only have that as our minds and our actions are set on the things above, rather than on the things here below.
In Colossians 3:1-2, Paul tells us to set our actions and our affections on the things above. In light of the theological truth of union with Christ, we are commanded to seek continually the things that are above. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” In other words, the world and the life that is to come that awaits the consummation of all things is to guide our actions in the here and now. Our lives here in this fallen, sinful, dark world are to be guided by the world that is to come that is perfect, sinless, and full of the light of the glory of God. Matthew Henry says, “We must make heaven our scope and aim.”
So, what are these things above? It’s seeking Christ and out of that living for Him. It’s living out God’s kingdom in the midst of Satan’s kingdom so that our light shines before men. Our actions are to be continually transformed and brought into conformity with Christ and His will and His desires so that as we know and experience Christ more and more by His Word and the transforming power of His Spirit, our actions are transformed more and more into fruit-bearing actions accompanied by the proper motivation of love for God and His glory. We will seek justice more and more in line with God’s word rather than the world’s definition of justice. We will see righteousness more and more in line with God’s character and kingdom rather than the righteousness of the world’s kingdom. We will seek love for God and love for our neighbor as God desires us and calls us to do. When we are seeking to live our lives based on the things above, that’s when we can pay evil with good. That is when we can turn the other cheek. That is when we can do good to those who curse us. When we are seeking to live our lives based on the things above, that’s when we can raise our children to the glory of God and use God’s Word to reveal their sin to them and their need of Jesus as the only Savior of mankind. That is when we can work and perform our jobs to the glory of God as we work unto the Lord. That is when we can still render praise to God after receiving a cancer diagnosis. That is when we can hope in the resurrection when dealing with the death of a family member. We are to live in a heavenly-minded manner in every aspect of our lives, both the good and the bad.
It is like Peter walking on the water. While his eyes were on Jesus, he walked calmly and supernaturally toward Christ in the midst of the storm. But as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and turned his eyes to his earthly circumstances, he lost the calmness and the supernatural and began to sink. That is a good picture to describe our spiritual lives. As long as we keep our eyes on Christ and are heavenly-minded, we walk by faith and we walk with a supernatural peace and comfort in the midst of the strife and troubles of this life. But as soon as we take our eyes off the things above and set them on the things below – when we move from being heavenly minded to being earthly minded – then our flesh and our hearts begin to fail and sink within us and we no longer walk by faith, but we walk by sight and we lose the peace and comfort of the Lord Jesus Christ. We begin to fret, worry, backslide, and run to and from with anxiety. But as Dr. Steve Lawson puts it, “God wants you to live a supernatural life, not a natural life.” And we do this by setting our minds on the things above and seeking the things above, storing up treasure in heaven, while we await the revelation of our true life who is Christ and the revelation of our true life which is hidden in Christ so that in Him will be all the praise, and majesty, and glory.