Seek the Things That Are Above (Part 2)
When Paul says in Colossians 3:1 to “seek the things that are above” and in 3:2 to “set your minds on things that are above,” what is he commanding Christians to do? That is the question we are answering in this series.
Last week, I said that we are to think about and seek the kingdom of God that is coming down from heaven to earth. This week, I want to add to that statement. Not only should we reflect on and seek the Kingdom that is coming, but we should think about the King who brought that Kingdom through his suffering, and then we should seek to give our lives for others as he did.
The Kingdom is only coming from heaven to earth because the King who rules it suffered greatly so that we could enter it. Jesus, our King, took on our sorrows and our grief, and suffered so that we could be healed and given a home in the Kingdom. He is the one who “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4) so that we could enjoy God forever in the age to come (i.e., the Kingdom).
And this is what I am to think about when I set my mind on things that are above. I am to think deeply on the One who is above, but who descended to live among his rebellious people and “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant . . . [and] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Php. 2:7-8). I must remember how the Kingdom was made available for sinners: through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who gave his life for his friends.
But what does it mean to seek the things that are above in this instance? Sure, I can think on Jesus’ sacrifice for me, but how do I seek this thing that is above? Answer: by imitating him in his sacrifice, and by giving myself up for the good of others just as Jesus did for me.
Shortly before his death, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn. 12:24). When he said this, he was referring to his impending death which was going to secure healing and blessing for his people. But watch what he says a few moments later. He says, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (Jn. 12:26). It’s not like Jesus gives himself up for the good of others and then tells his followers to sit back and chill. No, he calls us to imitate him by pouring our lives out for the good of others just as he did.
This, I think, is what it means to not only set our minds on the self-giving King who suffered so we could enter the Kingdom, but to seek this King (and his ways) as well.