It’s All In Your Mind
Dr. Jim Denison
During the Great Depression, an impoverished widow stepped into the foyer of an insurance company. An agent asked if he could help her. “Yes,” she replied. Taking out a yellowed, weathered insurance policy, she said, “I’ve lost my job and can’t keep paying this. What happens if I let it expire?”
The agent examined the document and said, “This is a valuable life insurance policy. I urge you not to let it lapse. What does your husband think?” “He died two years ago,” she answered. The agent looked again–the document was a policy on his life. For two years his widow had been paying premiums when she should have been collecting them.
Paul has been telling the Colossians that they can experience all of God there is–not just a God confined to church or “religion.” He would say the same to us. Rather than pay religious dues each Sunday, we can experience life-transforming joy each day.
Now the apostle turns from the theological to the ethical, from the theoretical to the practical. What does all this mean in the most common-sense terms? What steps are we to take to experience all of God there is today? What we’ll learn this morning is so simple each of us can all do it, and so crucial each of us must.
Learn the facts
Paul begins with some foundational facts. First, you have been “raised” with Jesus, “co-raised” in the Greek.
The tense indicates an event completed in the past which bears present applications. If I tell you that “I have been married to Janet,” I make the same point. The event happened 25 years ago, but it still affects my life in wonderful ways today.
This is passive, something that happened to us which we did not earn or deserve. It occurred at the moment of our salvation. In that event we became the “new creation” of God (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Second, “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (v. 3).
“You” is plural, something which is true of every believer, no matter our past or present circumstances. “Died” is a past event, a completed action. It happened when you asked Christ into your life–the old person died, and you were “born again.”
Now you are “hidden with Christ in God.” The tense again indicates a past, completed event. We are now sheltered in Jesus, hidden from our enemies; we are personally and privately with him, where none can go; we are identified with him, so that others see him in us.
Third, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (v. 4).
Now Jesus “is your life,” not just your faith or your religion. He will “appear” when he returns, and we will “appear with him in glory.” This world will pass away, and we will spend eternity with our Father in his perfect paradise.
Past: you died to your old life when you invited Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, and you have been raised to new life with him. This happened at your salvation. Future: you will be glorified with him one day when he returns. Present: he “is your life” now. Not just your church or your religion–your life.
Do you experience these facts every day? Is the sinful person you were before you met Christ now dead and gone? When people see you, do they see Jesus instead? Is he your life all the time, every day in every way? If not, let’s keep talking.
Make the choice
We’ve seen the grammatical “indicatives”–the statements of fact. Now let’s turn to the “imperatives”–the commands of Scripture which result.
We are ordered by God to “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (v. 1). “Set your hearts” translates the Greek word “seek.” It is in the present tense–something we must do continually. We did not settle this once and for all at our salvation. We choose it every day.
The word translated “seek” describes a person who seeks diligently, passionately, the way a man dying of thirst seeks water. We are to value them above all else.
In the next verse he tells us to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (v. 2). “Set your minds” means to fix your attention constantly, to think about these things all the time. We are to value and think about these things above all else.
The imperatives show that this will not happen unless we choose to make it so. This is not the inevitable consequence of a salvation experience, or God would not ask us to do it.
We are to set our minds and thoughts on “those things which are above.” We are to think about them constantly, to value them above all else. What are these “things”?
God himself: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5); “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
His word and will: “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times” (Psalm 119:20); “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97); “I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly” (v. 167).
His daily worship: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4); “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2).
Ultimately: Jesus himself. We are to seek those things which are above because that’s where “Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” We are to seek to know and value him above all things, people, and priorities. We are to live for him first and always, practicing his presence all through the day.