Summary: how our first and second resurrections get us to think heavenly
March 28, 2002 Colossians 3:1-4
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.
Martin Luther once challenged one of his students by saying, “I’ll get you a new horse and carriage if you can pray the Lord’s Prayer and concentrate on every phrase without losing your train of thought.” The young man thought, “no problem.” After he had prayed the prayer he however confessed to Luther, “all I could think about was the horse and carriage.” As much as he tried to concentrate on the Lord’s Prayer, his mind was drawn elsewhere.
Have you ever had nights like that - where you just can’t take your mind off of something? Maybe it was an upcoming surgery, or a job interview, or a big game - something that you just couldn’t get your mind off of. Unfortunately, when we get our minds stuck on things like that, they’re usually things we don’t want to think about or shouldn’t be thinking about. We know we shouldn’t worry about them, but sometimes we just can’t seem to stop worrying about it.
On this Easter Sunday, Paul wants you to take your mind off of the meal you are preparing for lunch, the new dress you’re wearing, or the guests you’ll be having over - clear your head of all of this earthly stuff - and concentrate on something better. Paul says that he wants you to
Set Your Minds on Things Above
I. Since you have been raised with Christ
This is a day that we set aside to celebrate and think about one thing - the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our songs, liturgy, and everything in the service revolves around the resurrection. Usually, when you think about the resurrection - you naturally think about how Jesus rose from the dead three days after being crucified, or about the fact that we too will rise from the dead some day. But this text from Paul starts out differently. Listen to the first verse again. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Paul talks about the resurrection in the PAST tense - as if it already happened and the Colossians were already raised from the dead. He also says, you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
What does this mean? What is he talking about? It makes you wonder - is this like one of those “Left Behind” movies, did I miss something? Was I left behind? Not at all. You see, the Bible talks about TWO resurrections - a spiritual resurrection and a physical resurrection. Paul was talking about the SPIRITUAL one. In Paul’s mind, the Colossians already had died and been raised from the dead! How so? Paul explains in Romans chapter 6 - don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Do you see the importance that Paul put on baptism? He told the Romans that their baptism intimately connected them with Christ - so that when they were baptized they were actually nailed to the cross with Jesus and buried with him. All of their sins were buried in the tomb of Joseph. Isn’t that an interesting concept? A wonderful one? God looks at you as already having been crucified - punished - and buried - 2,000 years ago.
But that’s not where it ends. If they were buried with Christ - then they were also raised with Christ. It means that a part of them has already been raised and ascended into heaven - since Christ had ascended into heaven. As far as God is concerned, a part of you is already in heaven - since Christ is in heaven. Since that was the case - since they were so intimately connected with Christ, they should then naturally set their hearts and minds on things above. The closest illustration I can get to this is that of marriage. God says that when you get married, the two become one. When your spouse has a bad day, you have a bad day. When your spouse is happy, you are happy. And when you are apart from each other, your mind is drawn to when you can be together again.