Focus Determines Reality
If any portion of Scripture shows what “focus determines reality” ultimately should look like in the life of a Christian, this one does.
“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 God in Christ. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory?” (Colossians 3:1-4)
These words tell us to think about our future in heaven and to think about where Christ now is and where we will one day be with him.
Two questions jump out to me as I consider application of these verses:
- Why should “things that are above” be my focus?
- How can “things that are above” be my focus?
Focusing on “things that are above” directs our perspective toward that which is permanent and will last forever rather than that which is temporary.
“This world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:17)
Setting our minds on things that are above means we look to what God is doing and at what pleases him rather than on what other people are doing and what pleases self.
Since my “life is hidden with God in Christ,” I want to know as much about Christ, both what he did and what he has in store for me. So, I want to learn as much as I can about the Gospel message and my future reality.
As Colossians 3:1-4 directs, I must also seek and then set my mind on things that are above. This means creating and developing awareness, which starts with knowing what God’s word says about heaven.
- Death will not exist in heaven (Isaiah 25:8).
- Only righteous people will enter heaven (Matthew 25).
- Few people will enter heaven (Matthew 7:13-14).
- Jesus is preparing heaven for his followers (John 14:2-3).
- Our lives will not be complete until we enter heaven (2 Corinthians 5:2).
- Heaven is much better than earth (Philippians 1:23).
- Christians should look forward to heaven (Colossians 3:1-4).
- Heaven is the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13).
- God is the focus of attention in heaven (Revelation 7:17).
- There will not be any sadness in heaven (Revelation 21:4).
- People in heaven will walk with God (Revelation 22:5).
By no means is this an exhaustive list of what the Bible says about heaven. Yet, it still gives a real picture of what to expect in eternity as well as how we can set our minds on those things now.
Seeking Things That Are Above
Knowing what God says about heaven helps me determine my focus while on earth. Though my understanding is still growing on how to do this seeking, the verses above tell me this about where to direct my vision now. My vision should:
- Not focus on death or my problems here on earth. This doesn’t mean I disregard my mortality or simply forget about the challenges I face this side of heaven. It just means that my focus doesn’t rest on these temporary things. In other words, I am not to dwell on them and think that they have any victory over me.
- Focus on righteousness. Righteousness involves integrity, morality, and virtue. Seeking it involves knowing what pleases God and purposing to do those things. Of course, this means I must know what pleases God, and this knowledge comes through reading his word, talking to him daily, and letting the Holy Spirit direct me.
- Focus on progress over perfection. Since perfection won’t be reached until I’m in heaven, I must strive to make progress toward perfection. This involves taking steps – usually small ones taken consistently over time – to line my heart and mind with God’s heart and mind. A focus on progress over perfection is really a focus on pursuing righteousness.
- Understand Jesus’ work in heaven. In other words, I must realize that Jesus is preparing heaven for me. In that realization, I can ask myself, “Am I preparing myself for heaven?” This, again, takes us back to making progress toward righteousness.
- Focus on God. God is the focus of heaven, and, in heaven, we will walk with God. In my preparation for heaven, I can make him the focus of my vision now. This involves thanking him for his protection and faithfulness, and it means praising him for his blessings.
As I consider the focus of my vision and whether it lines up with what God says, I realize that I think too much about things that are on earth. I let them direct my heart and mind far too often. In that realization, I understand that I need to refocus on things that are above more often, daily even. I need to let the Holy Spirit direct me on seeking things that are above and then in setting my mind on them.