“Aim at Heaven and You will get Earth Thrown In”

TEXT:  COLOSSIANS 3:

[1] IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [Psalm 110:1]   [2] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above–the higher things–not on the things that are on earth.   [3] For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hid with Christ in God”  (Colossians 3:1-3 AMP).

C. S. Lewis writes, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.” (pg. 134) “Mere Christianity”.

A 1964 FORD FALCON SPRINT STORY:

In October of 1963, I was single, had a good paying job at a grocery store, living at home with my folks and had just returned from a vacation in Mexico with a friend.

And at 21 years old, I had made up my mind it was time…time to buy a new car.  What more would I need to attract young girls.  Throw a Surf Board on top of the car and head to the beach after work.  At the time I was working graveyard shift, so heading to the beach at 7:30 AM in Southern California wasn’t a problem, as long as I could grab a ‘burger’ for breakfast on the way.  Ah, youth!

I had been looking at new cars with a buddy of mine for months.  We had looked at every classy, bright-colored and fast cars that were available that year.  And after the new 1964 models hit the showrooms, I found myself visiting every one of them on my days off.

And then one day it happened.  The “ta- duh” moment–you know, when the lights go on…bells ring…fireworks explode!  There it was sitting on the showroom floor with its hood raised and the driver’s door opened– and my name written on a placard on the car’s dashboard.  A 1964 White Ford Falcon Sprint with Red Interior, 4-speed manual transmission, chrome valve covers and air cleaner all with a 264-cu engine.  And I didn’t know a thing about cars before that day except–this one was going to be the one fixed in my mind!  I know girls, it’s probably a “guy” thing–or not.

1964 Ford Falcon Sprint

An Illustration of A Man in His 80’s Who Owned a Special Vehicle–

A man who was in his 80’s, kept a restored vintage vehicle in old wooden shed.  A car very similar to the one I had in the 60’s.  He drove it ONLY on nice summer days, otherwise he kept it in the shed…in mint condition.

It too was the car of his dreams as mine was when I was but 22 years old.  We both had literally fallen in love with our vehicles.  The LOVE for those cars had made us both behave in ways we NEVER would for anything else in our lives.  So you see, AGE doesn’t have much to do with focus.

THE CHURCH AT COLOSSAE:

This was a church that had been visited many times by false teachers who tried to convince the Christians–rules and regulations could change them.  They even tried to convince them that a strict lifestyle would make them more MORAL.

But Paul wrote and explained to them that  “Such [practices]…are of no value in checking the indulgences of the flesh”  (Colossians 2:23).  In other words, RULES and REGULATIONS couldn’t change you; couldn’t make you a better person.  Only JESUS could do that.

Now, in this 3rd chapter (having said that)–

The apostle Paul explains:

God does expect us to change.

He does want us to be moral.

He does want out of our lives to be pure.

BUT–God knows there is a better way to change us than by asking us to keep a list of do’s and don’ts.

PAUL DOES MAKE US A LIST OF THINGS THAT UPSETS GOD:

–Sexual vice.

–Impurity.

–Sensual appetites.

–Unholy desires.

–ALL Greed and covetousness.

–Anger.

–Rage.

–Malice.

–Slander.

–Filthy language.

Paul is saying to us, “If you want a list to tack up on your refrigerator–consider this one.”  BUT understand…merely knowing the list does not change you and doesn’t make you a better person.  In fact, even if you STOPPED doing all those things, it wouldn’t necessarily be acceptable to God.  That is because LISTS and RULES are lacking in value (Colossians 2:23).

In fact…if I FOCUS on the evil, disgusting things on the list–THAT will dominate my thoughts.  It may, in reality, make it harder for me not to sin!

A PICTURE ON THE WALL–

As an exercise, I want you to stare at this picture and pick out key objects; the details and their relationship to the overall view.  Now close your eyes for a few minutes [count to 20 out loud] and  don’t think about what you’ve just stared at in the photo.  Come on, keep your eyes closed!  NOW, how hard was it, not thinking about the picture you just saw?

The problem with trying to be moral and keeping a list of things you shouldn’t do, is that list becomes that which you look at all the time.  It is THAT LIST that hs filled your mind.

That’s what Paul meant when he wrote:  “set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things)”  (Colossians 3:2). In fact, he goes on to say that we should, put to death [kill]…whatever belongs to your earthly nature”  (verse 5).  “put away and rid And we should also yourselves of ALL such things”  (verse 8).

An Illustration:  Living at a previous home–

 In 1980, my family and I moved from a southern California residential neighborhood to 1-3/4 acre home in a rural area of the state of Washington.  It sat in the middle of the woods where unlike California–we couldn’t see our neighbors homes on either side of ours.

One day, one of my teenage daughters came up to me to complain about mice in her bedroom.  My other daughter chimed in “there is mouse droppings under the kitchen sink!”  The mice were driving my kids crazy, my wife Dianne crazy and in turn driving me crazy.

In the process of trying to alleviate the “mouse problem” in our house…I killed the mouse [mice].  Now what do you suppose I did with that dead mouse?

*  Did I put it on top of the TV in the basement family room?

*  Did I put in a Tupperware box and put it in the Fridge?

*  Did I put a string on its tail and hang it from my car’s rear view mirror?

The answers are Nooo…I threw it out into the surrounding woods and never gave it a second thought.  I didn’t want MICE in the house to begin with.  Now that it was dead…I definitely didn’t want it around anymore.

QUESTION:  When I put something to death that I didn’t want around in the first place, how long do I keep it around the house?

ANSWER:  I don’t.  I get rid of it.

throw it in the trash…

throw it out in the woods…

I remove it from my life.

BECAUSE…I never wanted it to begin with and that’s why I killed it.

Don’t FOCUS on the evil earthly things of your life.

GOD didn’t want them in your life in the first place.  So throw it out the back door and don’t spend a lot of time focusing on that part of your life.

Paul says, put those old things of life to death–and put on Christ Jesus.

[9] “you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices,  [10] And have clothed yourselves with the new…”  (Colossians 3:9-10).

“HOW DO I PUT ON CHRIST?”

“For in Christ Jesus your are all sons of God through faith.    For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ”   (Galatians 3:26-27 AMP).

Ragged and Torn Clothing 

There is a custom among some churches in Africa that after they are baptized in Christ, they burn their old clothes and put on a new white robe to show our new position in JESUS.

What Paul is telling us here in Colossians, that when we become Christians, we need to change our clothes.  Our old ways of living life are like filthy garments and they need to be taken and burned.

I need to be excited about this “new life in Christ”–

If we are going to clothe ourselves with the new lifestyle that glorifies JESUS–we have to “put Christ on” like a new and beautiful garment.

WE NEED TO BE “charged up” — EXCITED ABOUT A “NEW LIFE IN CHRIST”!

Do you remember when you first purchased a new automobile, or your parents bought a new car?  Tom Petty wrote and performed the song Mary’s New Car, here is just a few lyrics:

Mary got a brand new car

Mary got a brand new set of wheels

Now everyone is so charged

Man you don’t know how good it feels!

When you and I first became Christians, there was perhaps that same type of excitement and anticipation.  I was so excited about my new life in Christ, I wanted to tell everyone I could about what had happened that one night; when my wife and I accepted JESUS as Lord and Savior.  I was so “charged up” in fact that I led an office co-worker to Christ the following week and she too “put on Christ.”  I was inexperienced, “green” in biblical knowledge…but I was so excited about my new-found faith, I had to share the simple truth of JESUS!

In the early 70’s, I remember the excitement displayed, in the eyes of believers, who walked that long aisle in church bearing witness publicly of their testimony.  Why do people react that way?  It’s because Christ supplies what they have needed all along in their lives.

Realizing what we’ve gained sometimes seems to fade–

“Putting on Christ” should be experienced continually; a constant state of excitement and thanksgiving if we’ve really become  new creatures in Christ JESUS.

HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE HAVE PUT ON CHRIST SUCCESSFULLY?

Paul gives us a list of those too:

*  Don’t lie to each other.

*  Show compassion,.

*  Show kindness.

*  Be humble [a lowly opinion of yourself].

*  Be gentle.

*  Show patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure no matter what!].

*  Forbearing with one another.

*  Forgive grievances.

*  Be thankful.

*  Sing songs of praise.

*  Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.

*  AND over all things, put on LOVE which binds all things together!

The way you know if you’ve put on Christ completely–

When you can honestly look at someone who has offended you–FORGIVE THEM COMPLETELY.  It is when you are willing to “bear” with them.

THE BEAUTY OF BECOMING A CHRISTIAN:

God gives us a new life; freed from the guilt and shame of the past.  A life filled with GOD’S LOVE and acceptance.  A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST JESUS–with a new set of ‘forever clothing’ that never wears out.

When the children of Israel left their SLAVERY behind in Egypt, they lived in the Wilderness for forty years.  Their clothing never wore out and they never had to go through life ‘bare-footed’.  God provided for them 24/7.

“Having been clothed…with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.    {In this new creation all distinctions vanish.]…but Christ is all and in all…   Clothe yourselves therefore, as god’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives)”  (Colossians 3:10-12a AMP).

GOD wants you to look beautiful as you travel in life as His ‘hand picked representatives’.  And like our earthly parents, who don’t want us to represent the family with tattered and unsightly clothing, neither does our Heavenly Father want us to represent the family of God naked.

Our True Character Can be Determined  by a Formula Found in Colossians 3:3–

“Your old life is dead.  Your new life, which is your real life–even though invisible to spectators–is with Christ in God.  He is your life” ~ The Message Bible.

In closing, I want you to ask yourself three questions:

1.  What are three things you most earnestly working for right now?

2.  What are the three things you love most?

3.  What are the three things you think about the most?

Essentially the same message is used by JESUS to determine a person’s identity:

“Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal.    BUT rather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal;    For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”  (Matthew 6:19-21 AMP).

The HEART is the seat of your emotions–

Your HEART [soul] determines how and what we think  (Proverbs 23:7)“For as he thinks in his heart so is he.”  So being heavenly minded simply means, loving what JESUS loves, thinking like JESUS thinks, and viewing everything in our daily life from His perspective.  “Aim at Heaven and You will get Earth Thrown In”.

“And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His person, giving praise to God the Father through Him”  (Colossians 3:17).

 

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4 thoughts on ““Aim at Heaven and You will get Earth Thrown In”

  1. This is another very good post Mel, so much to hold onto. You are right legalism and lists of dos and don’ts only bring out the desire to sin more, as Paul says although the law of God is perfect the carnal spirit is in opposition to it and so sin gets the upper hand. Thank God for Yeshua who fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law and made sin a thing of no effect to those who abide in Him. Just as you say the most important thing is what we do with this precious gift of love and grace that God has provided for us, it is crucially important for us to learn to put on the garment of Messiah as this is the only thing which truly has the power to transform us and renew us. A great article and I loved reading and learning more about you.

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