Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Focusing on what is important to take care of what is important - Colossians 3:1-4:1
Colossians 3:1-2 "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."
Today's post is all about focusing on what is important to take care of what is important. This title will function also as our main point of application. Below we will flesh this truth out by considering how we evalute our lives in general and particular areas ranging from our internal spiritual lives, marriages, parenting and jobs in light of focusing upon our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Focus on the things above, where Christ is, to order what you have going on in the things here below
Paul's point is to underscore the sufficiency and supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things from two vantage points: things above and things below. Whenever you look through a pair of binoculors, two eye pieces are used to bring into focus and proper perception whatever object your are viewing. In looking at "the things above", where Christ is, I am able to prioritize and manage the "things here below" in their proper perspective. Paul's usage of the "above and below" theme runs throughout Colossians 3. Colossians 3:1-14 serves to unfold what it means to give it all to Jesus, that is to say, taking everything here below and submitting it under His Lordship.
Colossians 3:15-17 goes from the big picture to the little picture of what it looks like when I am finding Christian fulfillment in the Lordship of Christ, the Holy Spirit's filling ministry, the scriptures and thankfulness. The "things above" and "things below" theme understands that Jesus Christ is as much Lord in the heavens above as He is in and over our lives here below.
Focusing on Christ above enables you to be on target with your family
As Paul writes on into Colossians 3:18-21, we see him continuing to take this theme of Christ's supremacy and Lordship and funneling it down into very specific and practical everyday affairs. How is it that you and I can have on-target Christian marriages? By keeping our focus on the things above, where Christ is.
What about on-target Christian parenting? How is it that in living in the 21st century world we can be assured that we are on-target in how we deal with our children? Again the answer is clear from the overall context of Colossians 3: focus on the things above, where Christ is.
Focusing on Christ above enables you to have the right perspective on your job
We then come to Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, do your work heartily,as for the Lord rather than for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." As you broaden the context of this final set of specific instructions from Paul to include Colossians 3:22-4:1, as well as the wider context of Colossians 3:1-4:1, you discover that the urgency to focus "on the things above, where Christ is" once more reaffirmed.
Why is it that slaves ought to serve their masters with a heart aimed at pleasing God, rather than man? Why should masters exercise just and fair treatment of their slaves? These thoughts in Colossians 3:22-4:1 would had run counter to the slave/master mentality that was dominant in the first century. Some of criticized Paul and the authors of the New Testament for not issuing explicit statements denouncing the slave industry of Rome. However as Charles Quarles and Brett Selby in their resource: "Colossians, Christ is All you need" note: "At this time in in the history the Christian church was still small and did not have the political clout to abolish slavery any more than it could outlaw prostitution or infanticide. Although Paul did not call for the abolition of slavery, he believed that the Gospel radically reformed the institution. The Gospel so dramatically changed the relationships between slaves and masters that slavery by the normal ancient defintion practically ceased to exist in the Christian church." Certainly institutions such as slavery have no place whatsoever in society in general and definitely can never be shown to allign with the Gospel and Christianity in particular.
To apply the statements we read here in Colossians, it is best to understand the relationship an employer as with their employees in today's world, and thus the route that seems appropriate in applying these passages. Notice how often Paul instructs his readers (slaves and masters in his day, for us today, employees and employers) to do what they do in light of working for their Master - the Lord Jesus Christ:
Colossians 3:22 - "....but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord."
Colossians 3:23 - "Whatever you do, do your work heartily,as for the Lord rather than for men."
Colossians 3:24b - "It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."
Colossians 4:1b - "....knowing that you too have a Master in heaven."
When you and I recognize that we all ultimately do out labor for the Lord Jesus Christ, everything changes - from motives, to quality of work to the willingness to work.
Today's post was all about focusing on what is important to take care of what is important. In fleshing out this main thoughts we considered how we evalute our lives in general and particular areas ranging from our internal spiritual lives, marriages, parenting and jobs in light of focusing upon our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. To God be the glory!