Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Up Above My Head

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. -- Colossians 3:2

Since my Bible came open on Colossians 3 again this morning, I figured I might as well stay there.  By the way, if you haven’t yet read Father Stephen’s post, “Sin is not a moral problem”, you’ll probably like it, and it goes along with what we’re thinking about in Colossians. 

I’m feeling a little lazy today – like today’s any different, so let me pull a quote from Matthew Henry that covers the first four verses:

As Christians are freed from the ceremonial law, they must walk the more closely with God in gospel obedience. As heaven and earth are contrary one to the other, both cannot be followed together; and affection to the one will weaken and abate affection to the other. Those that are born again are dead to sin, because its dominion is broken, its power gradually subdued by the operation of grace, and it shall at length be extinguished by the perfection of glory. To be dead, then, means this, that those who have the Holy Spirit, mortifying within them the lusts of the flesh, are able to despise earthly things, and to desire those that are heavenly. Christ is, at present, one whom we have not seen; but our comfort is, that our life is safe with him. The streams of this living water flow into the soul by the influences of the Holy Spirit, through faith. Christ lives in the believer by his Spirit, and the believer lives to him in all he does. At the second coming of Christ, there will be a general assembling of all the redeemed; and those whose life is now hid with Christ, shall then appear with him in his glory. Do we look for such happiness, and should we not set our affections upon that world, and live above this?

As Jesus said, No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Luke 16:13).  I always liked the good KJV word “mammon” better because it isn’t just about money.  It’s about the status and the prestige and the admiration of the world as much as greed.  Greedy people are just greedy, seeking a false security in their doubloons or the digits in the bank account.  A lot of people who server Mammon aren’t so interested in being rich as they are in looking good to the neighbors, having the right opinions and being accepted into the right cliques, circles, and circuses.  That’s understandable for those who do not know Christ, but for those of us who do, we ought to be as zealous and as engrossed in the pursuit of heavenly things as we used to be in the pursuit of earthly satisfactions. 

Now, clearly Paul does not suggest that we should never think about our situation, our duties, and our responsibilities here on earth.  We have to take care of business.  But these earthly endeavors are not our goal in life.  Paul believed that we are responsible for and in control of what we think.  We can choose that on which we set our minds.  We ought to keep on thinking about those things in heaven we are striving toward, because it does very much matter what we think, and we orient our lives around what we think. 

There is a saying about being too heavenly-minded to be any earthly good.  I don’t believe that.  Certainly there are those who call themselves Christians who have been deluded into a mentality of entitlement.  God ought to take care of them.  It doesn’t matter what they do.  God will do what He wants.  The material world and the body do not matter, and so on.  If that were the case, all Christians would die upon baptism, the gospel would be preached by angels, and the planet would be left to the coyotes and the cockroaches.   

The reality is that social reforms, such as the end of slavery in the western world, often came about through heavenly-minded Christians, like Wilberforce, who had a different perspective on values and righteousness.  Being heavenly-minded moves us to act on the earthly plane in accordance with the mercy, love, and grace of our Father.


John Lien said...

...because it does very much matter what we think, and we orient our lives around what we think.

I'm believing more and more that it is so.

Oh, and the Fr. Stephen post. When I read it last night I was thinking how it nicely fit into what we have been discussing.

John Lien said...

This very trippy 60s song kind of fits.

And, thanks to the internet, I finally understand the words.

mushroom said...

Thanks for that link, John. I used to listen to Traffic quite a bit, and I had forgotten about that one.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"A lot of people who server Mammon aren’t so interested in being rich as they are in looking good to the neighbors, having the right opinions and being accepted into the right cliques, circles, and circuses."

I concur, however, there are some who serve Mammon that do so to obtain power over others rather than just acceptance by the "right kind of people."

Consequently, they have no problem forcing others to do their will.

I see it as three stages, not necessarily in this order:
1. Greed for riches.
2. Greed for fame.
3. Greed for power.
Power being the worst, IMO, because then it goes beyond greed n' envy.

That's not to say humble politicians who consider themselves as servants and representatlives of liberty-minded folks do not have power, but they don't abuse that power and they never use it to force others to do their bidding.
Or, IOW's they honor their oath of office which prevents them from doing so, as should their faith if they believe in God.

This is why Christians ought to care about politics. The more liberty there is the easier it is to practice our faith and give others a hand up rather than a handout, or down.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Haven't heard that song in awhile, John. Three Dog Night also played this song but Traffic originated it.

mushroom said...

You are right. Politics is one of those earthly things that we have to attend to.

If you look at things today, especially in the financial realm with government debt and stock markets divorced from reality, you realize that being experts and Nobel laureates and having MBAs and PhDs doesn't keep those people from being deluded.

It's up to us to send realists up there now and then to poke the bubbles.

John Lien said...

Ben, the Three Dog Night version was the one I first heard -on my very first ROCK ALBUM!!!!!!.

"Three Dog Night Captured Live at the Forum."

I was 12 when I got it and I wore it out.