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February 23, 2024
Thinking Ahead
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Colossians 3:1-4

In his book 100 Bible Verses, Robert Morgan chronicles how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once told of riding the bus across town every weekday to attend high school. This was the era of segregation, and so blacks were required to sit at the back of the bus, while white people sat in the front. Even if there was an absence of whites riding the bus, the blacks were still relegated to the back and forbidden to sit up front. Adding insult to injury, even if all the “black seats” were occupied, riders had to stand over the empty seats reserved for whites. King said of that time, “I would end up having to go to the back of that bus with my body, but every time I got on that bus I left my mind up on the front seat. And I said to myself, ‘One of these days, I’m going to put my body up there where my mind is.’”

I love that story, and I love the truth it teaches and preaches. It is an absolute rule in life that our bodies end up where our minds are. Our thinking shapes our living. Our attitudes determine our actions. The Bible is clear about mankind: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7; see also 4:23). In large measure, a man is the accumulation of his thinking. The quality of our lives depends on the quality of our thoughts.

In Colossians 3:1–4, Paul understands this principle as he urges the saints in Colossae to set their minds on things above, not on things on the earth. The Christ they love and follow has ascended to the right hand of God, which calls for elevated thinking on the part of His disciples. They were to aim at, keep seeking, be intent on, fasten their thoughts to things above. They were to fix their attention on the ascended and glorified Savior. He has all authority, and they should live out His lordship over them in all aspects of life. Their lives were now hidden with Christ in God, and so although they were not yet glorified, they were secure and safe in the glorified Christ who was returning to glorify them. Setting their minds above included looking upward to Christ’s present reign over them in heaven and looking forward to His return to take them to the Father’s house, that they might be where He is (John 14:1–3). This elevated thinking was intended to raise their game in the arena of daily discipleship. When we set our minds on something, it focuses our energy and energizes our focus.

Thoughts of Christ, heaven, and the life to come, when properly channeled, make us more effective. One, focusing on heaven restores our hope in seasons of sorrow (Rom. 8:18). Two, focusing on heaven reminds us of God’s unassailable sovereignty (Rev. 4:1–3). Three, focusing on heaven reminds us that this world is not our home (Phil. 3:20–21). Four, focusing on heaven refocuses our attention on what is of true value (Matt. 6:19–21). Five, focusing on heaven reignites our fervor to serve the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).

Let’s put heaven to the front of our thinking. As C. S. Lewis would remind us, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this [one].” Aiming at heaven brings life into focus. As Lewis also said, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”