3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
(Colossians 3:1-4 NIV)
As we begin chapter 3, Paul switches gears from dealing with those mixtures of false beliefs to right belief and right practice. No more would Paul warn against following Christ mixed with obeying the Old Testament law or eastern mysticism. No more earnest warnings against those who promoted such heresy.
Paul was very candid about these warnings. He also knew when to move on. Paul knew that you don’t identify a counterfeit item by studying and concentrating on the counterfeit item, but by studying the genuine item. if you know the real item, any form of a counterfeit become obvious. This truth applies to physical items like $100 bills and drivers licenses as well as beliefs about God.
Paul begins chapter 3 by building on what he had taught previously. Notice his first two words: “Since, then…”. Paul is referring back to verses 20-23, where he reminds us that we died with Christ to the external religious conformities imposed by others. In chapter 3 verse 1, Paul does not leave us dead in the grave with Jesus. Paul says we were raised with Christ. We have new life in Christ, both spiritually this side of eternity, and physically, the other side of eternity.
Before we came to Christ, our lives were focused on ourselves – what we wanted, with no focus on or interest in God. Paul reminds us that now that we have died to the old life and are raised with Christ to new life, our focus has now changed as well. Life is not all about us anymore.
Paul reminds us that we are to focus our hearts on things above, where Christ is. And where is Christ? In heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father. This is Paul’s way of reminding us that this life is not the destination; it is simply the journey. Our home, our resting place, our final destination is in heaven with the Trinity, part of the heavenly community.
If you feel restless in this life, yearning for something more, for a deeper relationship with God, be encouraged. Your heart is on the right path, even though it may be incredibly hard. If you feel satisfied and smug with your life, thinking that it doesn’t get any better than this, it’s time to repent and ask the Lord to give you a fresh picture of who He is and His desire to do life with us both now and forever.
In verse 1 Paul reminded us to focus our hearts on things above, on Christ. In verse 2, Paul tells us to focus our minds on heavenly things as well. Our hearts are what we dream about; our minds are what we do. Paul reminds us that from right thinking comes right action.
In verse 3, Paul reminds us that our old life is gone and our new life is secure in Christ. In fact, Paul says that our life is “hidden” with Christ in God. No one can steal this new spiritual life or destroy it. Someone or something may kill our physical body, but no one can destroy our soul, our spiritual body when we are in Christ.
Paul uses verses 1 and 3 to reinforce that we are going to be where Christ is. Heaven is not a celestial place where we are isolated and alone. While we would greatly appreciate the solitude and break from the constant demands and pressures of this life, we would miss the greatest benefit of heaven if Christ were not there and we could not be in His presence.
Paul closes this paragraph by reminding us that we have a hope and a future awaiting us when Christ comes for us.
Are we satisfied with this life, or are we restless, yearning for our final destination, spending eternity with Christ? May our hearts be turned anew to Him, so consumed with His glory and affection for us that we lose interest in all our earthly cravings and pursuits that seek to consume our thoughts and actions.