Wednesday 30th September 2020
Colossians – Life Giving Union with Christ
So if 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 is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
At first sight these words of Paul seem to reflect a very hierarchical view of the world. God is above – high above us in heaven and we are below, here on earth and we are being called to reach up the ladder to where God and Christ sit in glory. The image from the film, A matter of life and death’ comes to mind with its long moving stairway going up between earth and heaven.’
This hierarchical view dominated our culture for many centuries. It is the kind of world where everything is in order, with the rich and powerful on top and the ordinary folk kept in their rightful place. As that less popular verse of ‘All things bright and beautiful’ puts it: ‘The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them, high or lowly, and ordered their estate.’
In Scripture Paul, like John’s Gospel, uses the language of ‘above’ and ‘below’ not to define a spiritual hierarchy but to speak of two orders – that dominated by self and guided by the Spirit of love and compassion. Only a kind of dying and rising again will free us from one order to live as people of a different Way.
So set your minds on the things that are ‘above’ not to reach the top of some spiritual ladder, but to join Christ in his world turning way – God’s Kingdom. He came not to serve but to serve and challenges his disciples do the same. He confronted the abuse of power wherever he found it – in the home, the temple, the city and nation – and calls us to do the same. And he reaches out to us where we are. As Brian Wren put it so beautifully in another hymn, ‘we strain to glimpse your mercy seat and find you kneeling at our feet.’
Reveal your life within me,
Reveal your strange glory,
made known not in pomp
but in grace filled love.
Raise me up with you.