My college experience was incredibly blessed, filled with downfalls and triumphs, repentance and rejoicing. God surrounded me with the gift of many God-fearing, Christ-devoted brothers and sisters. I was almost always being challenged, encouraged, and pushed in my faith as I interacted and observed these believers around me. However, I started noticing some things that deeply bothered me, both in my local Christian community and in myself: partaking in gossip about our fellow brothers or sisters, listening to mainstream music that boasts freely and positively about sin, making crude jokes and using crude language, wearing revealing clothing according to the new fashion fads of the day. I’d call that complacency, and it’s a bigger problem than we’d like to think.
Dictionary.com defines complacency as “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like”. Isn’t that what’s happening when we, believers, settle with joining in unglorifying or sinful behavior and activities? When we allow ourselves to succumb to the ways of the world, so as to dishonor Christ and stifle the Spirit in us? And the consequences are indeed dangerous.
When we settle for sin, we’re not only stifling our own sanctification and closeness with Jesus, as we’re living certain areas of our lives as though we’d never learned the Truth, but we’re also most positively causing fellow believers to stumble, because we all struggle with something (generally, somethings). When we settle for sin, we’re painting a distorted image of who Christ is and what it means to follow Him; we’re no longer living out the reality that we’re set apart, but rather look just like the rest of the world, lost, unrepentant, and filled with idolatry. And surely as this is happening, our witness to the world is undoubtedly weakened, which is the very reason for our continued existence here on earth. But why? Why don’t we children of God seem to care about pursuing holiness anymore?
Because we’ve lost perspective.
“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 minds 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.”
We’ve forgotten that we’ve been raised with Christ, and all that this means for us. And if we’ve forgotten this, we’ve also most likely forgotten that we are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19), that this is not our home (2 Cor. 5:1-9), that our lives are not about us, and that the days are evil and far too short (Eph. 5:16). So we do what we want. We speak how we feel like speaking, talk about what we feel like talking about, dress how we want to, and do whatever else seems possibly pleasing to us. We begin to find places in our lives that seem “unimportant” enough to value holiness in, and decide that we’ll be the god of those parts. Soon enough, we can barely be told apart from the unbelieving, and that’s no exaggeration. But the problem doesn’t begin with the actions. It begins with the mind and the heart. The solution?
To set our minds on Jesus our Lord, and therefore put on the new and eternal perspective as our life’s lens.
In Colossians 3:1-4, notice the “if” that comes before the truth that we have been raised with Christ, and imagine a “then” seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. If this is true – that we have believed on Jesus as Lord and Savior and therefore have joined Him in His death and resurrection, then we should be focused on Him. We should be pursuing Christ and His righteousness daily, with a prayer that He’d be at the forefront of our minds each moment. Then notice the “for” that comes between the charge to set our minds on what is above and the truth that we have died and our lives are hidden with Jesus. To clarify, I understand this as saying: because you have died to sin and your life is hidden with Christ in God, you should now therefore set your minds on the things that are above, eternal things.
If we’re praying for the Spirit to help us have this Christ-focused, eternal mindset, our hearts and actions will indeed follow. What will that look like? It will look like putting to death “what is earthly” in us (v. 5). It will be us living out the reality that has already been accomplished in us by Christ, which is that we have “put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (vv. 9-10). This is true, we only need to remember it, pursue Christ, and allow Him to work this reality out in us.
Plain and simple, we have lost perspective of the new and eternal, and we will fail constantly at living it out. But when we do, there is already abundant grace waiting for us, and we’ll keep trying with all of our hearts and desperation to seek Jesus above all else. Only then will we have a shot at conquering this venomous complacency that silently settles in and stifles all work of the Spirit in ourselves and therefore, in our lives.
Jesus Christ died for our sins, was raised on the third day, and then ascended into heaven. He’s sitting on the throne, at the right hand of God. And we, His children, now have eternal life because we’ve believed in His Son. This is the truth that we have surrendered our lives for, and we now have a responsibility to share this beautiful, good news! Everything we do should be for the glory of God and the expansion of His Kingdom, but we’re not living out this purpose if we’re living for ourselves. Our lights are both dimmed and hidden when our minds are far from the One we’re living for.
“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Let this be our prayer and our desire each day. I charge you, brothers and sisters: put on the perspective of the new and eternal.