Valuing of OthersPhilippians 2:3-5
“1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
Just recently I was walking through the woods when I came upon a large clearing. This was no ordinary clearing, it was a maze of the most tightly woven briars and bramble that I have ever seen. Three to four feet high and a few hundred yards wide and long. The problem was that I needed to get from one end of the field to the other, and in order to do so, I needed to navigate through the mess before me. As I gazed over the top of the obstacle I fixed my eyes upon my destination…an old deer blind way on the other side of the clearing. And with a step my journey had begun. As I struggled through the briars I would trip and fall from time to time, get hung up in the thorns and struggle along. But after a while I realized something very important. I never took my eyes off of that old deer blind for long. It became my guide and my goal…my prize. Every time I became disoriented or frustrated I looked up and gazed above the mess and fixed my eyes on the destination. After a while I noticed that my walk became less of a struggle as I learned the best way to navigate the maze. And with each passing step I came closer and closer to my destination. I even found myself enjoying the challenge of getting from point A to point B.
As I read Colossians 3:1-4 after returning from that walk in the woods I couldn’t help but make a connection of my experience to the walk of a Christian. There is no doubt that the walk can be a great struggle from time to time. There is no question that many times we will fall and get stuck along the way. Walking in a manner worthy of our calling is tough, because the world is full of barriers and messes that seek to derail us. But in those moments what is your reaction to the struggle at hand? Do you react to the situation and get embroiled and lost in the earthly struggle? Does the earthly situation become your focus? Or do you lift your eyes above the mess and fix your gaze upon the destination, the prize, the goal…Jesus Christ (no, our goal is not a deer blind!) God promises that “in this world we will have troubles, but I have overcome the world”. Jesus has risen above the mess and overcome the mess and offers us rest and hope and peace in the midst of struggle through repentance and salvation in Christ.
But why do so many Christians get lost in the struggle? Why do so many of us focus on the circumstances of life and allow them to steal our joy and peace so easily? Well the answer to that is in verse 2 and 3 of Colossians 3. The Christian not only is to set their eyes on things above but they are to crucify their flesh. To quit gorging their flesh with earthly desires, distractions, feelings and other seductions. Without crucifying the flesh daily, the Christian easily loses their focus. The Christian is to be dead to the present things. They don’t find their hope and portion (sustainment) in earthly things, but in heavenly things. Our flesh is buried with Christ. Dead. Every Christian is to be crucified unto the world, and the world is to be crucified unto him, (Gal. 6:14). And if we are truly dead to the world, and do not count it as our source of joy, hope and happiness, it would be ridiculous for us to set our desires and affections upon it, and seek it. How absurd would it be for me to seek a field of thorns and when I find it, count the thorns as my joy and hope!? If the world is dead to us we ought to seek strength from the Lord so we are not moved and affected deeply by it.
Finally church, why is it that we can walk through the thorns and thistles of life and not have it destroy us? Because it is Christ Himself who keeps our salvation “hidden”. Jesus keeps our salvation safe and holds it for us until the day He calls us home. Jesus sustains us and nourishes us. Even though we do not see Him, we know Him, and because we know Him we have a confident expectation that He is Faithful and worthy of our well placed trust. And because of this, we have deep reason to love Him and we may rest in the comfort of Christ’s care even in the midst of the thorny walk of life!
Yours in Christ, Pastor John