A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Identity and Inheritance: The View of Things from the Heavenly Horizon


Several years ago, I was in Cuba on a teaching mission. One afternoon, during some free time, our hosts took us to a mountain on the Isle of Youth. There was a path up the side of the mountain, and those of us who were able and willing, were invited to climb the mountain. It was a tough climb; some who were not in the best physical condition were unable to continue for long. But for the four of us who made it, when we stood on the top of that mountain and looked down at the landscape below, we were treated to a view of the world that one can get only from the horizon.

Paul and Timothy write, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (3:1-4).


The earthly things of the world look quite different when viewed from the vantage point of heaven. Our writers to the Colossians are not advocating a withdrawal from the world, but an involvement in the world from a divine vista. Focus does determine reality; perspective interprets what we see. The other-worldly does not nullify the things of the world; it reinterprets them through the eyes of God.

We must not miss the verb tense in verse one: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ." Notice that Paul does not say, "Since, then, you will be raised with Christ." Resurrection is not something that will happen only when Christ returns; we participate in the resurrected life of Christ right now. In this world we are to live the heavenly life in the present. We are to bring to pass the words of The Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

The heavenly life in the midst of earthly existence looks quite different; it looks redeemed. This is why Paul and Timothy tell us to take off the vices that characterize the ways of the world and to clothe ourselves with the virtues of the Christ-like life.

Living as God's chosen people means walking the road of discipleship in a manner that will attract others to the gospel, so that those who are "earthly" will desire to live in a "heavenly" way, setting their minds on the things of God and thereby seeing over the horizon to view the world in the way Christ does-- from the summit of the cross.

2 comments:

journeyman37 said...

And... "since, then, you have been raised with Christ" points to something that happened to these people not simply in some remote place or historical past, but in their own flesh through the sacrament of baptism (2:12-15).

So Paul can say "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above..." because these people have encountered resurrection already, in their bodies, by being buried and raised with him through baptism.

If the original referent (since then you have been raised) points to a concrete, physical event in their own lives (and it does), then the upcoming reference (set your hearts on things above) must as well. That is, we are to set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God," precisely in this life, and in no less concrete, physical ways than the baptism by water and the Spirit through which we have been raised with him.

Allan Bevere said...

Taylor,

Thanks for your insightful comments. I really like your connection of faith to the sacraments that we Methodists often forget.