Several years ago, I was driving to the airport through pelting rain and sleet. As I took off through the gray overcast skies, it wasn’t long before we broke through the cloud layers. We emerged into what looked to be a totally different day and I was taken back by the beauty of the bright sunshine. That same day possessed two different realities. What reality do you usually live in? Listen to these words from the apostle Paul: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1-2).
We are to “keep seeking (zeteo).” This present tense verb means to keep inquiring, investigating, looking, considering, and examining. If you have been raised to life by the power of Christ, you are to live by constantly looking above. You should never take your eyes off Jesus; which means that you should consistently view life from heaven’s perspective. Your line of sight should always contain the kingdom of God. Paul continued by saying, “Set your mind (phroneo).” This is also a present tense verb that means to constantly direct one’s attention and affections toward something. According to this verse we are to constantly direct our attention toward Jesus. Truly, whatever has your attention owns you.
What does it mean to live each day directing our attention to things above, and not to the things of earth? How do we maintain a job, raise children, pay bills, resolve conflicts, and manage life while looking into heaven? My first response is short and simple: one cannot do anything well on earth if they aren’t focused on heaven. This means that every thought must be taken captive and viewed from heaven’s perspective (see 2 Cor. 10:5). Don’t dwell on things that aren’t pleasing to Jesus. Otherwise, our minds will be held hostage by what’s happening around us and eventually we will be filled with fear, frustration, anxiety, and every poisonous thing we’ve opened our mind to that’s contrary to Christ. Setting our mind on things above doesn’t guarantee that we won’t experience adversity; rather, it means that we’re able to see over it. It means that we’re living above the circumstances and not under them.
A kingdom mindset is focused on Christ more than anything or anyone else. Every thought is shaped with His presence in mind. Getting even more practical, it means considering what Jesus thinks about things more than how we think. We do that by simply asking Him. Jesus, what do you think about my children’s behavior? Jesus, how would you handle this problem? Jesus, what do I do about that troublesome person? Jesus, what should I say to my boss? My friend Hal Perkins calls this being discipled by Jesus. We are integrating Him into every activity, conversation, and decision that we make. We are doing life with Jesus every moment of every day. That is how we become “one flesh” with Christ just as He prayed (see John 17:21).
Think about Paul’s words in Colossians 3:3, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” If we have died, then life isn’t about us. It doesn’t matter what we think, what we say, what our opinion is, or what our response should be. We are supposed to be dead! We are to be concealed in Christ; He’s to be seen and heard through us. The truth is that none of us have been built to handle life on our own. We were created to function in union with Jesus Christ; therefore, we should view all of life from His perspective, not ours. Apart from Him we can’t do anything (see John 15:5). Paul wrote these sobering words: “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, [as] enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is their destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” (Phil. 3:18-19).
Note what Paul wrote: “Their minds on earthly things.” This is why he wept. He saw people consumed more by the earthly realm—which is but a blip on the radar—than the eternal realm. In actuality, if we are shaped more by this realm than the kingdom of heaven then we become enemies of the cross. We are to live as ambassadors of Christ here on earth (2 Cor. 5:20). That means we belong to another country. We represent heaven while living and working here on earth for a period of time because our true citizenship belongs in another realm (Phil. 3:20). Therefore, our thinking is to be fashioned by heaven’s values and not things here on earth. It’s really the only way to bring heaven to earth as Jesus prayed (see Luke 11:2). When our minds are fixed on Christ and molded around heaven’s values, we’re able to release His presence to those around us. Living with our minds on Christ keeps us in a posture to minister effectively no matter where we are.
Sometimes people push back by responding, “You don’t understand what I have to deal with. My life is too complicated to always remain focused on Jesus.” The reality is, however, that Jesus desires to be in the midst of everything we do. A kingdom mindset doesn’t avoid life, nor does it neglect responsibilities; rather, it involves Christ into all of our daily affairs. A kingdom mindset takes Jesus into the mess and complications of our lives, and it integrates Him into everything that we do by seeking His direction, guidance, and wisdom.
Set your mind on things above this year. Seek Him and His kingdom first and foremost (Matt. 6:33). Let Jesus saturate your thinking. Continue living with a kingdom mindset rather than an earthly mindset. If you do, you’ll probably see the sun more than the rain.