LIVING IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY
Jerry A Collins
v Where do you have your affections?
v What does it mean to live in light of eternity?
v How can I set my mind on eternal things?
In the book, “His Excellency:George Washington”, the author makes the case that everything George Washington did he did with his legacy in mind. He was well aware of how history would view him and he wanted to determine how that view would be remembered. His decisions as the leader of the American Revolution, as President of the constitutional Convention, his place as the first American president and then reelection for a second term were all orchestrated and managed by in such a way as to how he would be remembered by future generations. All of this was a focus on how things would be viewed temporally, on this side of the grave, from a worldly perspective. Now this kind of preoccupation is foreign to a believer who is learning to view life from God’s point of view. It is not about our legacy—what we will leave behind and how people will think of us. We have a brand new position before God because f Jesus Christ and this new position brings with it a different vantage point from which we are to live our lives. We will learn from Colossians 3 that our lives are to be ‘lived in light of eternity.’ But what does that mean and how do we do it? Those questions are answered for us and these answers are especially pertinent because all around us society and culture are driven by what one lives for temporally—this side of the grave.
1. WE HAVE A BRAND NEW POSITION TO LIVE FROM
If suggests that ‘since’ something has happened to us that something changes everything—our direction, our perspective, our ambition, our affection. This is assumed to be true for us. What’s that?
Been raised up with Christ This is a return to the argument in 2:9-15 of our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. So this is assumed to be true for us as believers not because it is a possibility but because it is a reality and since it is there must be something different driving us while we are in this world. The fact is we have been raised together in Christ. This reality brings with it an extra dimension of life—an invisible reality, one the world cannot see and does not have. This new reality is right inside of us. It is Christ in you the hope of glory. So we no longer take our cue from this world. We have no interest about legacies and reputations to uphold here. This resurrection is a description suggesting Jesus authority and his greatness in our lives. So our devotion belongs to Him and Him alone. We live, then from this new position. It orients our lives and focuses our attention elsewhere not on ourselves.
2. OUR NEW POSITION BRINGS A NEW VANTAGE POINT TO US
Since we have been raised in Christ, our new position a brand new identity, then we must set our hearts on heavenly things. We do hat in two ways:
Keep seeking This present imperative means that we are to do that for treasures in heaven. Our attention is to be fixed on things above where we have our new position sealed by death, burial and resurrection. That place where we will ultimately be glorified. And he says two things about that place. First, it is where Christ is. He is there right now even though He is everywhere. He is there preparing a place for us even now. It is the place where God is personally. Jesus tells us that where he is we shall be also. Second, it is where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Christ is up there and at God’s right hand. He is there as a mediator for us. This describes Jesus authority and greatness—He occupies the supreme position there. So He alone is the focus of my attention. Everything about me is now tied to Him. He has saved me. He has delivered me. He has raised me up. He is my life. He has defeated the forces of evil and our enemy, death. It only makes sense then to keep on seeking help from there, mercy and grace from there. While I am here I am seeking perspective from there. I can do this by studying God’s Word. This gives me heaven’s vantage point. I can think on earth like they think in heaven while I am on earth. I can walk and talk and live and act as a foreigner. Like Jesus, people can say, no one has ever spoken like this before. No one has that kind of perspective. No one live with priorities like that. Of course not! The world cannot think and act and consider and decide like they do in heaven. That is why the Bible is called ‘Revelation’. It is the disclosure of the mind and heart of God to us. We could never have figured out any of the stuff recorded in the Bible. We would still be trying to save ourselves—well all world religions still teach that! Love your wives as you do your bodies, love your enemies, speak evil of no man, don’t look only on your own interests but also on interests of others and so much more would never be an earthly pursuit. It is from heavens point of view and that is what we are called to pursue in every dimension of our lives!
Keep thinking the second imperative is to ‘keep on thinking about’ this. We not only make heavenly thinking our ambition we make it our preoccupation vs 2. You must not only seek heaven you must also think heaven! The 1st suggests striving while the second suggests concentrating and both for the whole of our lives. In contrast, the verse states ‘not on the things that are on the earth’. Possessions, persuasions and pursuits of this world should never be our aim, our goal, our master. While we have our feet on earth we must have our ambition and preoccupation in heaven. So things recorded in vs 5 must be avoided since they have nothing to do with our lives from our heavenly vantage point. These things only invite God’s wrath vs 6 and now in Christ we must simply ‘put these things away’ vs 8-9 like we do our old clothes that do not fit us anymore. Instead we can ‘put on’ new things now 10-11 like brand new clothes that fit us and are useful in lite of our new life. Your greatest struggle in your xian life will be to apply heavenly thinking to your earthly situations. Whether raising your kids, or conflict resolution, money management, ministry priorities, job performance, sexuality, time management, all of this and more will be challenged by heaven’s point of view. What will you do when it is? That will determine whether you believe God has your best interests at heart or not! It will come down to who you want to please. Do you want to please men or do you want to please God? The fact that these are two commands tells us it will be a struggle to apply heavenly thinking to our earthly living but we must live in light of our destiny. The saddest aspect of anyone’s ministry in lives of others is the knowledge that those you love and shepherd and pray for and care about will choose to follow the ways of the world even though they have heavens vantage point. This only brings ruin and lives wasted on both sides of the grave. It is possible for a believer to veer from the correct path and follow the ways of the world. A mother this week confessed that her son, a believer, wanting something so very badly and in jeopardy of not getting it, one nite screamed ‘I just wish God would stay out of my life’. Be careful, God may grant you that wish and let you have what you want with the consequences. Pursue the eternal.