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. – Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV)
I love Colossians 3. It is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. That isn’t because it makes me feel good. On the contrary, I am convicted by this chapter nearly every time I read it. I love it because Paul sets the bar high for the follower of Jesus. There are no limits to the transformation he brings with his goodness, critique, grace, and power. Our Fighter Verses this week come from the first three verses of Colossians 3.
Verse 1 – Paul starts with the foundation of all of this. “If you have been raised with Christ…” The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is both a picture of our current reality with him and the literal future event that will make us new. We are to live out this resurrection from the dead that Jesus has brought us. How? “Seek the things above,” Paul says. “Seek Jesus who is reigning at God’s right hand.” The verb tense of seek is present active imperative, meaning we’re commanded to do it and keep doing it. Don’t ever stop doing it. Every day, we are to seek the things of Jesus.
Verse 2 – Paul repeats the thought but alters the idea. “Set your mind on things above.” The image now is fixing and planting our thoughts on God’s heavenly kingdom, not the kingdoms and offerings of this earth. This command is so hard because we have the world physically in front of us daily. Our cares, pride, and hunger all too easily find the cotton candy of this earth to devour. It never fills and quickly dissolves. It begins with our thoughts. Paul says to have our thoughts dwell on the kingdom of heaven Jesus has brought and is bringing to this earth.
Verse 3 – “Why, Paul? Why can’t I occasionally give in to my earthly lusts and pursuits?” His answer is two-fold. First, you have died. Those earthly desires, they died, too. When did that happen? When you by faith trusted in and gave allegiance to the crucified and risen Jesus. Second, your life is hidden with Christ in God. Salvation isn’t a simple one-time decision we make. It is entering into a continual, sanctifying oneness with the Lord Jesus Christ. When he died, you died. When he rose, you rose. Your life is now kept safe and secure with Christ. This idea is not safety and security to live however you please. It is the safety and security of the protection of Jesus, guarding our hearts and minds as we fix them on him instead of the earthly things.
These verses are challenging, and we’re only memorizing verses 1-3. But they are also glorious. Though it is not one of our memory verses, let’s wrap with verse 4: “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Jesus will one day appear before all as king of heaven and earth. We will see that he is the truest reality there ever was, is, or will ever be. The sinful things of earth will be revealed as the smoldering ghosts of nothingness they are. And at that moment, we too will appear with him – a radiant bride transformed by the life and love of the royal bridegroom of heaven.
O, that we would seek Christ as our very life, that we would set our minds on him who alone is our greatest treasure! This week, may we have eyes fixed on the full beauty of Jesus and pursue him with every moment he gives.
For further reflections on these verses, listen to Dennis Moranha’s sermon from our study in Colossians.