In an ever-changing world, followers of Christ face a never-ending challenge. While we all know that there will always be change, how does the believer determine the difference between what should change and what should NEVER change? Recent events have raised serious questions among Southern Baptists that may well determine not just our direction, but our very existence. Of course, this problem is not limited to the Southern Baptist Convention but affects every Christian, particularly those in the United States.
Let me begin by saying that in the midst of these chaotic circumstances, there is only one infallible source for discerning truth. If we are not in agreement on this point you may as well stop reading right now. So, I invite you to join me in examining a verse of Scripture that gives powerful instruction and insight for living a life that pleases God and gives us peace in troubled times.
Colossians 3:1 is simple but to the point. The context provided by the culture of that day makes it appropriate to speak directly to our current concerns. Here it is, “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
If we are true believers, this refers to you and me. Here it is, here is the message, “keep seeking the things above.” I love this verse; it is direct and to the point, no messing around. Until we enter heaven, we are to never stop, never quit, continue to seek after the things above.
I would like to touch on several of these “things above” that we must remain in pursuit of. The first of these is what I will call God’s perspective. In times like these we need to see our lives as He sees them. I will mention just a few verses that give insight into this truth. Romans 8:28 tells us… we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. We are instructed in James 1:2-4 to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” And in the following verse, verse 5, we are told, “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Things appear to be awful, we appear to be in a mess. Can it get any worse? Maybe we’re in the last days. So, how do we cope, how are we to get beyond our circumstances? We must look to heaven; we must look above and keep looking until we see what God sees. We need His perspective.
Another of these “things above” we must never quit seeking is God’s purpose for our lives. There are the broad truths of Scripture that we need to be reminded of such as those found in 1 Peter 2:9 “…you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light….”
For us to fulfill this stated purpose we must never stop seeking the things above. Then there is the more specific call to seek his purpose as referenced in his letter to the Philippian church. Paul stated it this way, “I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Paul never stopped seeking to lay hold of that purpose for which he was laid hold of, and neither can we. The things above, God’s purpose for our lives…
I know it seems like mere semantics, but I believe there is a distinction to be made between God’s purpose and God’s plan for our lives. Certainly, we agree that we must never stop seeking God’s will for our lives, and this I believe is where it gets personal and specific. Jesus said in John 5:30, “I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” If it were necessary for Jesus to seek His Father’s will, then we can understand how important it is to be reminded, “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…” Eph 5:17. The wording found in the model prayer sheds light on the matter—Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. What is prayer if it is not the ongoing dialogue between ourselves and God where we discover His plans and adjust our lives accordingly for His glory and honor? Is there any other way to discover His will than to keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God?
Another insight into the “things above” reference is the distinction made between earthly and heavenly provision. It is the nature of humanity to focus on the physical rather than the spiritual. This is one of the reasons Scripture teaches us to seek God’s provision, not men’s. Jesus left no question as to where our hearts need to be focused. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 ”But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Philippians 4:19 emphasizes the importance of understanding that the “things above” include His wealth as part of the equation. “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. A big part of the uncertainty we face in this world has to do with the wealth of this world. God has a word for us— keep seeking My provision and I will supply all your needs according to my riches in glory. Have we learned this lesson? Well, let’s just say there is a reason we are to be instructed to keep seeking the things above.
Let me conclude these thoughts with just one more “thing above” we would do well to keep seeking. We must never stop our pursuit of God personally. While it should be obvious, I will state it anyway, God Himself is our first and highest priority. Heb 11:6 states that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. May I suggest that while there are many benefits, blessings and rewards that come with seeking God, the greatest reward we receive from seeking Him is Himself.
So let me put it this way, whatever we think of whatever is happening around us, no matter how bad we think it may be—if we have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.