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Set on Things Above

Critics have often argued that Christianity itself is just a form of escapism. “Christians are so heavenly minded, they are of no earthly good,” they quip. C. S. Lewis argued the opposite. He pointed out that the Christians in history who have done the most good have been heavenly minded. “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither,” he declared.  

In today’s reading, Paul makes the same point. The false teachers of that time had been promoting the idea that to be spiritual one had to participate in ascetic practices that focused on self-denial. Paul gives an alternative vision. He says that life in Christ is more than what they could see with their eyes or touch with their hands.

Instead, Paul urges the church to “set your hearts on things above” (v. 1). This command is so important that he repeats it in verse 2. Paul wants the Colossian church to focus on the reality that Jesus is “seated at the right hand of God” (v. 1). He is risen! That reality should be our guidepost for thinking and living. As one commentator puts it, we accomplish this “by deliberately and daily committing ourselves to the values of the heavenly kingdom and living out those values.”  

In addition to these precious truths, Paul reminds us that because we have died and been raised with Christ spiritually, our real life is now “hidden with Christ in God” (v. 3). Even though we may look just like everyone else around us, our status as co-heirs with Christ is veiled. Our hope is that one day, when Christ returns, what is hidden now will be revealed. These truths will sustain us for the long haul in life and ministry, not the petty rules and regulations offered by the false teachers.     

Apply the Word

What are you focusing on today? In the midst of work, family commitments, and the noise of advertising and politics, it can be hard to keep your mind on “things above” (v. 2). Reflect today on the vision of the risen Savior in Revelation 1:12–18. Give thanks that Jesus is “alive for ever and ever!” (Rev. 1:18).

BY Ryan Cook

Dr. Ryan Cook has taught at Moody Bible Institute since 2012. He earned his bachelor of arts in Bible and Theology from Moody and his master of arts in Old Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He has worked in Christian education and served as a pastor in Michigan for seven years. During his time as a professor at Moody, he earned his doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. He now lives with his wife, Ashley, and their three children in the Chicagoland area.

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