During the Covid pandemic that reached the USA in 2020, and is still going strong now in 2021, we’ve heard talk of pandemic weight gain. People have been sitting at home a lot more, sedentary. We don’t have a scale in our house, but I was at the doctor for a checkup in December 2020 and I noticed I was five pounds heavier. Then in March 2021 I was back for a follow-up, and there were five more pounds on the scale. That will happen when you indulge, especially in sugary foods and drinks.
And indulge I did. I mention this because I believe it will help us understand what Paul is teaching in Colossians 3:1-4. In the previous post, we learned how he instructed us to set our hearts on things above.
Notice how Paul continues this thought in verse 2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Here Paul is making what could be a confusing distinction. It could sound like he is saying, “Don’t focus on life on earth. Focus only on heaven.” Instead Paul is trying to show us that there is an earthly way of thinking and living in the here and now, and there is a kingdom or heavenly way of thinking and living in the here and now. This he describes with the word “above” in both verses 1 and 2.
We are to be focused above, on the Kingdom of God, while we live in the here and now. That is a Kingdom way of thinking. It is looking at every part of our lives from the perspective of God’s Kingdom mission.
An earthly way of thinking is vastly different from a Kingdom way of thinking. An earthly way of thinking looks at life from an earthly perspective, and not from God’s perspective. An earthly way of thinking is focused on what earthly culture and society says is valuable and important, which often results in an indulgence of our self-focused desires.
Remember my question in the first post of this five-part series: what authority do we use to help us evaluate life? Well, our society, our culture, the earthly way of thinking, is quite eager to be our authority. It could be a political idea. It could be the media that wants you to tune it to its various offerings, or it could be a company that wants to sell you its products. All of them are desperate to make money off you, in the guise of offering you the good life. The earthly way of thinking says that our ultimate satisfaction, our ultimate comfort, our ultimate peace, and the best way of human life is found an self-focused way of life.
As a result, we often indulge in the things of this earth…and we gain ten pounds.
Imagine feeding your longings in every area of your life. Society and culture, oftentimes very subtly tells us that if we indulge, we will feel amazing. What this indulgence leads us to is a self-focus. We learn to be selfish in our relationships. Selfish with our money, our time. You won’t just gain ten pounds. You might gain a lot more than ten, especially over time, but worse, you will likely face broken relationships, perhaps financial and health problems as well. Carried out over thousands and millions of people, it is clear how indulging our longings leads to a society that is degraded.
What I am talking about is an earthly way of thinking, as if all there is to life is an earthbound existence of survival of the fittest. Instead, Paul says that Christians should focus our hearts and our minds above. We fix our thinking, our choices, all of our longings and goals, on the principles and the mission of the Kingdom of God.
But how? Check back in to the next post, as I hope to share some practical suggestions in the final two posts in this series.