Colossians 3:1-4 – If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in Glory. (NASB)
Paul says, ”If you have been raised…” which is an odd question for us since his discussion from chapter 2 seemed to put that experience in the past. We “were buried with him in baptism.” Yet here we are with this “if,” why? There are many things that have been done for us by Christ at the cross but that does not mean we are experiencing them in our lives today. He had provided all for my salvation long before I received Christ as my savior. When I received Christ I activated the power of God for salvation pertaining to me. The work was done but I was not experiencing it until I received the work of Christ by faith. And so again here, “If you have been raised” means we need to ask ourselves the question, have I received the resurrection power of Christ into my life and experience? The evidence of having received this power would be that I am in the process of overcoming every sin.
And if I have been raised with Christ, then I need to “keep seeking” the things above. So the experience of being raised up with Christ is connected to seeking things above, rather than below. When I put my mind and priorities on Jesus, I begin to experience what it means to be raised with Him. If I continue to dwell on the things “below” then I am not experiencing the resurrection power of Christ but rather I am still fighting it out in the trenches of life on this earth. If, on the other hand, I am seeking what is above then I am participating in the victory represented by Christ’s sitting at the right hand of God. He is seated because His work is finished and I am invited to sit with Him, but then that is up to me.
I choose to “set my mind” on whatever I want. The act of “setting ones mind” is a choice of the will. I can set my mind on failures and mistakes of the past, or on offense or on problems and difficulties or on whatever else the devil would like me to be thinking about at the moment. Or, I can set my mind on the things above and so experience the victory of Christ today. Too much of the church has put off the victory of Christ until heaven or perhaps the millennium, but that victory is for today if we will choose to set our minds on the things above.
The reason we can do this is that we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God. Paul could have said, “if you have died…” since that really is the issue. When we set our minds on things above, when we seek those things, they become more precious to us than anything of this earth and so we die to this world. When we die to this world we become like Jesus. He was not of an appearance to attract us in the natural (Isaiah 53:2-3) but rather He looked like any other man on the outside. But His life was hidden in the Father. Inside was the power of the kingdom but outside looked like an ordinary person. When you have died to this world, your life becomes hidden with Christ in God. Others may not understand you. Why do you not care about many things of earthly concern? Why do you not fret over your reputation and how can you forgive others so easily? Because a dead person does not worry about such things, in fact the message of Romans 6 is that dead people don’t sin either.
So your treasure is not here in the earth and your heart is not here either, it is hidden with Christ. But when Christ is revealed, you will be there. Again Paul uses this word “glory.” In chapter 1 verse 27 we understand that Christ in us is the hope of Glory and here again that hope is made more clear that when Jesus is revealed we also will be with Him experiencing and participating in His glory. We cannot take God’s glory, we cannot claim anything of the glory for ourselves, but Christ is willing for you to share in His glory with him as His body, His bride. But who is it that shall have this experience? Paul has just explained it, those who have died with Him and have been raised with Christ.
Can we understand that the purpose of Christ’s suffering and dying on the cross is not simply to provide us a ticket to heaven? Yes, heaven is promised to those who believe but the purpose of Christ is that we enter into His death by choice and through faith, in order that we may also share in His life and resurrection power…here…now! And the promise for us is that if we will receive from Him that resurrection power we will experience His victory now and share in His glory when He is fully revealed.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as he is. (1 John 3:2)