Living As Aliens And Strangers.
Colossians 3: 1 – 11.
By returning to our roots and thoughtfully reviewing the source of our faith, would inevitably centre us on God Himself and His ultimate purpose to sum up all things in Christ (Eph 1:10), enabling us to realign our goals with those of our Creator. This is a necessity, as human memories can be fairly fleeting and gratefulness short-lived. The Apostle Paul instructed the Colossians to set their minds or hearts on things above, on what is happening in the realm of eternity. This makes absolute sense as their citizenship was heavenly and their values were contrary to immorality, impurity, sensual appetites, evil, greed, anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lying (Col 3:5; Col 3:8-9), giving them tremendous freedom over the power of sin and Satan.
As our birth orientation often determines our racial and cultural comfort zone in life, it is then counterintuitive attempting to live a heavenly lifestyle on earth. Further, the constraints of our individuality in finite earth-bound bodies add to our difficulties in conceptualising the infinite. The temptation to slip back into our own cultural mores is always far easier than to be assimilated into any new ethos, be it heavenly or otherwise. Could this explain our double-mindedness in embracing eternal values? It takes an inevitable mindset transformation to live in the present moment and yet to be aware that we do not belong here, despite the fact that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. We ARE aliens and strangers in this world that we call ‘home’ (1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 2:11). How does one begin live like an alien and a stranger? Being at ‘home’ here immediately disqualifies one, and makes one a ditherer, and therefore unstable in all his ways (James 1:8).
The dichotomy between existing in this world and living above it, is stark. According to Paul, Christians are those who had died and had been raised again in Christ – with an altered perspective of living under the empowerment of heavenly values (Rom 6:1-9; Col 2:8-15); for to live simply as a heathen does not require divine power. God sees us in His Son, both at the point of His death and resurrection (Rom 6:8-13; 1 Cor 6:20; Gal 2:20; Eph 2: 6-7; Col 3:2-3), and as the Father loved the Son, He loves us just as much. And as Jesus is seated at the Father’s right hand, we are also seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ (Col 3:1; Eph 2:5-7). However, our desire to be masters of our own destiny nullifies effectively the practical outworking of the Biblical truth of our death and resurrection in Christ, hindering our testimony of the new life in Christ, and compromising our absolute identity in Him.
The process of setting our minds on the things above requires us to be intentional with an unrelenting practiced consistency in seeking His face and presence, without which we will become pale reflections of beings in Christ (c.f., Ps 84:8-12). Paul reminded the Colossians that they were to desist from setting their hearts on things that are on earth; and none of us need a tutorial on how to set our minds on earthly things. Likewise, he counselled them to set their minds on Christ – Who is our life. The issue with us is that we trust ourselves more than we trust God, and much of our living life here on Earth becomes ‘I-centred’ rather than Christ-centred. When Jesus is the focus, His lovingkindness, grace, and faithfulness will pervade every negative issue that confronts us. It may not entirely displace adverse emotions, but there is a certain awakening to His immediate presence, which will draw us back into His covering and assured company. Those who are the most heavenly-minded aliens and strangers will do the most earthly good in Christ!