On Easter Sunday morning, I had the privilege to preach (via ZOOM) at Holy Trinity Syracuse NY and Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY. As I studied the epistle reading set aside for that day, I was struck by how the resurrection of Jesus impacts our identity as Christians.
In Colossians chapter three Paul writes, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Once the Christian discovers their true identity is to be found in Christ alone, our struggles for self-importance and all our achievements in life will be finally settled, because who we are becomes all about the resurrected Christ and less about us and what we strive to become.
This is the good news of the resurrection. We have been raised with Christ and the resurrection of Jesus is part of our Christian identity.
Because Christ is risen, we too have been raised with Him and as a result, we are to set our minds on things that are above. Our behavior comes from our belief. We believe that Christ is risen, therefore we set our minds upon the risen Christ. This one of the great descriptions in the New Testament of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
It matters not whether the state considers us essential or non-essential. What matters is Jesus! Our identity is in Him. As a result, we are to set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
When Paul uses the phrase things that are on earth (things below) he is not suggesting that we separate ourselves completely from this world in which we live. In verse five he writes, put to death therefore what is earthly (things that are on earth) in you and he highlights sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness - a whole ugly list of things which are the things on earth that we are not to seek but rather are to put to death.
Paul teaches us to seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. In other words, the things that are above are the things that concern Christ in His kingdom, in His reign, where He is seated, ruling at the right hand of God. The things above are things that are compatible with His kingdom and with His rule, His rule of righteousness and peace. They are, the virtues, which are the very opposite of the things on earth.
Setting our minds on the things that are above requires us to be discerning in the social media we follow, in the books we read and the videos that we watch. Setting on minds on the things that are above requires us to be daily Bible readers. There is no better way to set your mind on the things above, than to be a regular, disciplined daily reader of the Bible. That's the way for the mind to be refined.
During this Easter season, I invite you to pray this special prayer which has been part of Anglican liturgy from the 16th century.
O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely therebe fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen