[1] If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. [3] For you have died, and your life is 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

It may be helpful if you have listened to my previous blog on Colossians 3:1-4 as it sets the context for this blog.

If you can have a favourite book in the Bible, then Psalms was my dad’s and often referred to by him in so many differing situations in family life.

Let me quote from Psalm 16,

Psalm 16:2 I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.'”

What an amazingly challenging statement made by David. That I have no good better than you (Jesus) in my life. In reading such words I realise how my life isn’t nearly as Christ-centric as it should be. This is what makes Colossians 3:1-4 so important.

The opening statement in verse 1, “if then you have been raised with Christ” parallels what Paul said earlier in 2:20 “if with Christ you died.”

Paul’s Christ-centric focus is clear and foundational: for the Christian, everything makes sense only when seen in terms of our identity, relationship “with Christ.” We are “with” him in his death and “with” him in his rising. As verse 4 says, we are also destined to be “with” him in glory when he returns.

Dying with Christ points to the definitive and irreversible split with the old life in which we once lived (vs 3). We are dead and unresponsive to the old life in which we once existed. Likewise, being raised with Christ points to our new status that requires a new lifestyle (one that Paul will outline in some detail in in later verses).

By virtue of our having died with Christ we have been set free “from” something. What Paul describes as the elemental powers; (Colossians 2:8 and 29). By virtue of our having been raised with Christ we have also been set free “for” something (a new life in him). Our death with Christ severed any links we had with the values of the old life and our resurrection with Christ united or connected us with the new, heavenly life. Put another way we died with him to “our old ways” and have been raised with him to “his new ways.”

So going back to that word “Christ-centric.” We have been raised “with Christ” in the past (3:1), we are hidden “with Christ” in the present (3:3), and we will be revealed “with Christ” in the future (3:4).

So, you may find what I am about to say a little difficult! We have no independent life of our own. All that we have is is from him and because of him. The only life that we now have is actually the life of Christ in us.

Therefore our interests and aims are to be in line with his. Our goals and vision are to be the same as his. All that is precious and dear to him should be to us as well. All that is alien and offensive to him should affect us in the same way.

Now this isn’t to suggest that we can attain some sort of sinless perfection in this life or that we we won’t mess things up on occasions.

But in the light of what has already happened to us (we died, were buried, and now are raised with Christ) and in light of what will happen to us (we will share his glory) our lives are to be radically different,

radically sin-denying and Christ-affirming surely!

Once again, the only reason for Paul’s exhortation to set our hearts and minds on the things above is because that is “where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (vs 1). We don’t seek “things that are above” to be more spiritual or pious but because the “things” are where Christ is!

“Things above” have no value or appeal except that they display Christ, focus on Christ, and bring us more of Christ. We are not to read Paul’s words as if he had in view heavenly “stuff”, whether treasures or streets of gold or rewards or even new bodies. Apart from him, they lose their lustre. Apart from him, they have no power to please.

Perhaps we should pause to identify those “things” below that hinder our focus on the “things” above. What earthly entanglements exert a downward drag on your soul? What worldly attractions have become distractions and keep your mind off Christ? What fleshly affections compete with passion for him? The power to disengage from and triumph over all such rival pleasures will come only as we see and savour him who is above.

[7] But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

Philippians 3:7-8

Father, Help us to rest in Christ alone as the treasure greater than all earthly rewards. Amen.”