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. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. — Colossians 3:1-4
To be awake and well-informed at this rather terrible moment in American (and human) history could easily lead to a siege mentality and despair for any sober-minded person. But what about serious-minded followers of Christ?
The Apostle Paul, ever marveling at the love and grace of Jesus, was also gripped by our standing and identity in Christ. I don’t have the space to unpack this, but suffice to say this Jesus-centric thread dominates our passage and weaves its way throughout his letter to the church in Colossae. Bottom line: we belong to the Creator and King of all creation and have been endowed with wisdom and certain privileges—including access to the very throne of God. Behold the rock-solid context to the question at hand!
Practically speaking, I think it's helpful to consider the efficacy of a godly mindset as it informs two dimensions of our thought life: 1] social mores (morality) and 2] faith (or hope). Paul uses a childlike metaphor in chapter 3 to capture the mechanics of a renewed mind (see also Rom. 12:2). “Put on” (ἐνδύω - to clothe one’s self) godly behaviors, including love-inspired empathy and compassion: putting off, literally “put to death” (vv. 12-17) the soiled clothing of the flesh (vv. 5-11). Loving one another is a fail-safe way to begin each day.
Fear or Faith
Equally relevant in the shape and hue of a godly mindset is a forward-looking faith (vs. the lack thereof). I have recently struggled in both realms but mostly with this one. As a realist, it is not difficult to see the pending perfect storm. We have already collectively absorbed many punches, and we are even conditioned to anticipate additional blows. Enter Philippians 4 stage right and left. I have embedded this amazing text in our prayer below to push back on the temptation to adopt a fatalistic mindset. We are to be a people of faith and hope, confident that in this age, God is always operating with redemptive purposes.
Paul is certainly not encouraging us to live in denial or naivete. Ostriches bury their head in the sand for a good reason; humans not so much. What he is so helpfully exhorting us to do is to “take every thought captive” and submit it to the scrutiny of the Lord. We are to fix our minds on things that are praiseworthy, that build our faith; rather than meditate on news that feeds our fears and doubts. This is easier said than done! And so we cry out to God for help in this time of need:
Dear Lord, give us strength today to heed Paul’s twin exhortations to seek things above and set our minds on the same...“brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Lord Jesus, we remember who You are and pray we might live accordingly.
Ministry Director, Christian Union Gloria (Harvard University)
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