10/3/12

Look Up!

My brother in Christ Daniel Howard preached for us recently, and God challenged me in several ways. I wanted to share about this. The main points are from Daniel. The discussion that follows is my interactions with it.

Colossians 3:1-4
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
This quote begins with "If." There are some who are Christian, and some who are not. These words are for the Christian.

Christians then are encouraged to look up, to make our life about God's things, not the things of this world. We need such constant reminders to make our lives about the life of Christ. We often become too bogged down in earthly things to remember the Christ who now owns our life.

How are we to remain focused on Christ? It would seem a frustrating and seemingly impossible command to focus on things that cannot even seem to fully see this side of heaven. The key is in verse 3, "your life is hidden with Christ in God." When you die to your old way of living, you cling to Christ, who now owns all of you, for you have surrendered to him. (Remember, your way of living was what resulted in your sin and pain to begin with!) After your death to sin, and your being raised to new life in Christ, your life becomes fully about Christ. You now pay taxes because Christ instructed you to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's." Parents, you now raise your children not for their success but for Christ's purposes. Students, you now do your homework so that Christ will stretch your train your growing mind. Couples, you now honor your spouse according to Christ's design, remembering that your marriage reflects Christ's relationship to His bride, the church. Workers, you now work for Christ, even while an earthly supervisor signs your paycheck. "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). The identity you formerly had ("What do you do for a living?") now has new meaning, because you are following Christ wherever He takes you, in your "normal" life.

I am convinced that more Christians would say yes to Christ if they saw more of what saying yes could mean for the glory of God. Daniel Howard spoke of a specific example of setting our minds on the things of Christ. Churches in Birmingham responded very specifically to Christ's call to care for orphans ("Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world," James 1:27). So after hearing from God, they said yes, and began to adopt and to foster children. The response was staggering, numerically. See the 2011 article here. I would like to find a more updated response to what Christ is up to in the Birmingham foster care system today.

As Daniel came to a close, he asked an important question of us. Why should we be concerned with this? What is our motivation? What is the end result? Colossians 3:4 answers this succinctly. "When Christ... appears, then you will also appear with him... ." This is not our home. We are aliens and foreigners. This present suffering will one day be completely gone. When our lives are completely wrapped up in the glory of Christ, then we will not find our ultimate purpose as long as we are still alive. Only on that day when Christ returns will our life's purpose reach its climax.

Do not forget. The purpose of all life is to bring God glory. Like some beautiful song being sung by the instruments of God -- his stars, his animals, his ocean waves, his mountains, his seasons, and his children -- we are all declaring the glory of Yahweh. This will culminate in a rousing chorus of the glory of Christ when "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (see Isaiah 45:23 and Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10).

So, Christian, live your everyday life for your Christ, your Savior. And find satisfaction in Him as He shows you purpose in your new normal, as He leads you to keep serving Him.