Thursday of Pentecost 8 – Colossians 3:1-11  

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.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Paul was a dear friend. We spoke once a week or so. He was a couple decades older than me. A devout Christian, he was a member of another congregation who regularly attended an online Bible study I used to teach. One evening the text directed our discussion to the topic of the Sacrament. As Paul spoke of the Lord’s Supper it soon became apparent to all that he was weeping.

The Apostle Paul here urges us to set our minds on things that are above. I think too often we imagine that we should be focused on things that are not in this world. I don’t know about you, but I have tried that. I cannot do it. But I have also come to believe that is not what Paul means here. The things he wants to focus on are real things, things you can touch and see and experience. He calls them “above” things because these things are in relationship to Christ who is seated at the right hand of God. The earthly things are also here, but they are not in that relationship.

Paul describes both things in the next paragraph. The life that is lived apart from Christ’s lordship is immoral and evil. It will be judged. We once interacted with things that way. But the life which is lived in Christ’s kingdom, as His citizen, has put off all these things and is lived in honesty, love, and is free of the old castes and divisions which this world thrives upon.

My friend Paul’s tears bore beautiful testimony to his consideration of things which are above, a meal of bread and wine, body and blood, which he tasted and touched and experienced. The sacrament is perhaps the easiest for us to see that way. But “things above” are found wherever the love of Christ is present, when we fulfill our vocations as parents, spouses, citizens, and Christians. Keep your mind there, not on the earthly things.

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