“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
This passage contains what this author believes to be one of the greatest Scriptural truths revealed in the Bible. Jesus doesn’t simply give Christians life through his atonement on the cross and resurrection. The Scriptures plainly declare that Jesus is our life. What a marvellous statement! If we are in Christ, we are alive; if we are apart from Christ, we are dead. Although many people try and have good lives without faith in Christ, the reality is that life without Christ is really death. That’s a rather sombre reality for many to take in, but it’s the truth.
Seek the Things That Are Above
Paul begins this chapter by writing that if we’ve been raised with Christ, we should “seek the things that are above”, where Christ is, seated at God’s right hand. This plainly refers to heavenly things. Our reward for believing in Christ doesn’t consist in earthly treasures that one day perish and fade away. Our reward, rather, consists in heavenly treasures that we will enjoy for all eternity (Matthew 6:19-20). We should seek what’s of true, everlasting value, not of fleeting, temporary value, because God has raised us up with Christ—in other words, he’s given us new life. This refers both to the gift of eternal life, and the transformation that the Holy Spirit initiates in our hearts that causes us to both love Jesus and the truth that is in him alone. In Christ, we no longer live for ourselves and our desires, like in our former lives, but rather for him who loved us and gave himself up for us (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Our desire is to ultimately be with Christ in his heavenly kingdom, and our longing for the things that are above clearly expresses this.
Raised with Christ
It’s also worthy to further examine the statement “raised with Christ”. Coming to Jesus in faith is a transition from death to life, resulting in us being a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). For those of us who have been saved by the grace of God, we were once dead in our sins just like the rest of the world. But because of God’s merits alone, we have been made spiritually alive. This means that we can understand and accept the things of God, and thus be saved through believing in the truth (1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). In the previous chapter, Paul wrote that we have “been buried with him [Jesus] in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).
In the sacrament of holy baptism, our old sinful nature was drowned and buried by God in the water. At the same time, through faith in the word of promise attached to the water, God raised us up to newness of life, just as he raised up Christ after he died and was buried in the tomb for three days (see also Romans 6:4-5). Paul makes it clear that baptism is God’s action on our lives, and not ours for God. In the next verse of this devotional’s passage, Paul changes from telling us to “seek” heavenly things, to “set your minds” on heavenly things, and not earthly things. Because we have been raised with Christ, we should not only seek the things of Christ, but also dwell on them.
Set Your Minds on Things That Are Above
We should make it a daily habit of studying, pondering, and reflecting on the mysteries of God, both through the written Word, the Bible, and through communicating with him in prayer. The purpose of this is for our sanctification. When we dwell on heavenly things more than earthly things, we grow and mature in our faith, which is more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7), and our relationship with Jesus will be strengthened. This has eternal benefits for us. But if it’s the other way around, our growth will be stagnant, and it won’t benefit us at all in the long run. In another passage, the Bible reminds us to think of whatever is “honourable”, “just”, “pure”, “lovely”, “commendable”, as well as things of “excellence”, and that are “worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
Your Life Is Hidden with Christ in God
In the next verse of the devotional Paul tells us: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. The key word here is “For”. In other words, we should be doing all of the above because our old sinful selves have died, and our new selves, which are being renewed after Christ’s image and likeness daily by the Holy Spirit, are hidden with Christ in God. Our new lives are hidden with Christ in the sense that Christ’s righteousness acts as a covering for our sinfulness, thus hiding our sins so-to-speak (which have already been paid for by Christ), making us pure and holy in God the Father’s sight. Our new lives are in God in the sense that we are reconciled to him. So for our new lives to be hidden with Christ in God means that because Jesus clothes us with his own righteousness, God sees us as he sees Christ, and because of this we have peace with him, just like before the Fall in the Garden of Eden. (See also Galatians 3:27 & 2 Corinthians 5:21)
Christ Is Your Life
In the last verse, Paul makes the amazing declaration to his Christian audience that Christ “is your life”. Not Christ “gives you life”, not Christ “is the source of life” (though both statements are true), but Christ “is your life”. We live spiritually because Jesus lives and reigns within us. His presence is constantly within us, and never departs from us. We do not live for ourselves, but for Jesus alone. For us, he always comes first, and our whole lives revolve around him. Jesus is both our Saviour and our salvation. All this is what it means when the Bible says Christ is our life. When Paul talks about Christ appearing, he is referring to Jesus’ second coming, the time when he will come again to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:27-28), and judge the living and the dead (John 12:48; 2 Timothy 4:1).
You Also Will Appear with Him in Glory
Jesus’ second coming will be a glorious one (Matthew 25:31). It will happen at a day and an hour no one knows or will expect (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44), but when it happens, everyone on earth will know about it (Matthew 24:30). Jesus will come on a cloud of heaven “with power and great glory”, and he will “send out his angels with a loud trumpet call”, gathering the elect from the ends of heaven and earth (Matthew 24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27). Paul writes that when this happens, we will “appear with him in glory”. We are the elect, those whom God chose before time eternal to be saved, by no merit of our own. While this day will be a day of terror to those who do not believe in Christ, it will be a day of great joy for us, for on that day we will enter into Christ’s glory, the kingdom of God (1 Thessalonians 2:12), with our new heavenly bodies that have been raised in glory (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). At the moment, the hardships we experience as Christians are preparing us for “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We will receive that glory on the final day, when we will appear with Christ—our life—in glory, with all the host of heaven.
There is nothing in this existence that is better than having Christ as our life. Because Christ is our life, we lack absolutely nothing. Christ possesses all things, and all that belongs to Christ belongs to us—with the exception of his divinity—including the gift of eternal salvation, perfect fellowship with the Father, and the eternal treasures of heaven. Jesus willingly gave all of this to us, even when we didn’t deserve, it because he loves us with an eternal love beyond human comprehension—even to the point of suffering and dying for us. Just as Christ died and was raised again in glory, when we die we will also be raised again with him forever in glory, because he is our life. Let’s all give thanks to Jesus both this day and forevermore for freely giving us the greatest gift of all: eternal life in his name. Amen.