I once knew a young man who had a remarkable capacity for memorization. He recited to me the book of Galatians one day, and he later memorized the gospel of John. In our day of both prosperity and strife, this is a passage we would benefit greatly from knowing and “walking” around with. It reminds us of how future oriented the Christian faith is.

Paul says: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Theologians distinguish between what they call indicatives and imperatives. An indicative is the reality of something; an imperative is a command related to that reality. An example in life might be the case of a woman being pregnant. The indicative is she is pregnant. She is a Mom.  A command attached to her pregnancy could be to eat right or pray for her child. Those are imperatives (or instructions) connected to the reality of her pregnancy.

The Mom may or may not follow the instructions. But she is a Mom. Paul teaches that a Christian is united to Christ in such a way he has been raised with Christ. This is a past action. He has new life (which is eternal) and he is inseparably united with Christ forever. He isn’t becoming a Christian; that is what he is.

There are commands attached to the reality of being a Christian. Paul says “set your mind on things above.” These commands are not to earn status with God; they are in view of being a child of God from the grace of God in Christ. These commands are done in faith and love to God. To be sure, it calls into question one’s profession of faith if they don’t consider their life belongs to Christ.

Nevertheless, the Christian is never to view their good works or even their heavenly mindedness as meriting God’s favor. They are saved purely from the grace of God. Christ did all necessary for them to be accepted by God. The “things above” Paul is referring to is a mindset to glorify Christ as he is glorified in heaven. Your purpose in life, as a Christian, is to honor him.

Paul says this in the context of previously warning of false teaching. False teaching will tend toward glorifying men. Jesus told the Jews in John chapter 5 they couldn’t believe because they sought glory from one another instead of God’s glory. They were very religious, but not according to the truth. If we would seek that which is above, to honor Christ, we must draw near to him where he is. He is exalted in heaven for his atoning work on our behalf.

Christ is always ready to help his people; to forgive, to bless, to comfort, to deliver. The Lord Jesus once set his mind on Jerusalem, even though it meant being betrayed and crucified. He had his Father’s will in mind, to make a people heavenly minded. We were delivered to become like Christ. So we should make it our main point to get near to God.

Paul says do not set your mind on earthly things. The things of earth do not grow strangely dim easily He doesn’t mean material things are bad. He means that sin elevates things above God. We are idolaters by nature. Christ rescued us from this empty way of life. Adversity and death often remind Christians of the emptiness of this material world and the perishable contentment’s in it.

We find real comfort and satisfaction for our soul only in Christ. We learn that thanksgiving for all our gifts in this world is genuine only when we see Christ is sufficient for our chief need. Paul was content (and joyful) in plenty and want, in prison or out, because he was no longer blind to his sin, and undone in his soul. He no longer gloried in his shame, but gloried in Christ.

He had a future expectation of great joy. Paul says Christians will appear with Christ in glory. The alternative to this is being exposed before God in your sin and suffering judgment. Many lose their souls for this world. If you don’t love Christ, you will to. But if you do then rejoice, be thankful, and honor him with body and soul until you see him.