By BRUCE GREEN
Teaching Minister at 10th Street Church of Christ
Let me begin by wishing you a joyous Thanksgiving that is rich with love and loved ones.
And now a question: Did you ever see the moon at night and wish to go there? Did you ever wonder what it might be like to set foot on it? You wouldn’t be the first person. The problem is, there’s this force called gravity that keeps us earthbound and to overcome it takes way more power than we naturally have. Just stop right now and do your best vertical jump and you’ll see exactly what I mean. So, for almost the entire history of mankind, space travel was the stuff of science fiction.
Then along came a man named Werner Von Braun. He was the person responsible for developing the Saturn V rocket. It took nine Apollo missions involving 24 astronauts to the moon between 1968 and 1972. Twelve of those astronauts walked on the lunar surface. It also launched the first space station, Skylab, in 1973.
The Saturn V rocket was taller than a 36-story building, weighed in at 6.5 million pounds and generated 7.8 million pounds of thrust. When I was growing up, we lived about five miles from the place where they tested the Saturn V engines. When they fired them up, the ground shook and the dishes in our hutch rattled. The Saturn V was (and still is) the biggest, baddest, most powerful rocket ever built. With it, man no longer had to be earthbound.
In his own way, Paul is doing the same kind of thing in his letter to the disciples at Colossae. In chapter 1, he writes about the supremacy of Christ (v. 15-20). In chapter 2, he follows with what God has accomplished through Christ at the cross (v. 10-15). Because of this, he tells them that when by faith they were baptized, God raised them up with Jesus who is seated at the right hand of God (2:12, 3:1). They no longer had to be earth-bound.
That is the power of what God accomplished through Jesus at the cross.
And here’s the enigma — people embrace this power, get baptized and are raised with Christ. They enjoy several weeks or months of living out of this world but then slowly drift back down to earth as if the power suddenly gave out. Of course, it didn’t. The power hasn’t gone anywhere — what they lost was the perspective that enabled them to experience the power to begin with.
That’s why Paul’s instruction in 3:1 to “set your hearts on things above” is so critical. We fall into the trap of thinking that life in Christ is a maintenance-free adventure. It is an adventure to be sure, but it’s not maintenance-free. We have a responsibility, a choice to make. We can set our minds and hearts on things above or on the things of this earth.
If we set them on the things of this earth, we won’t be able to live a risen life. You can’t live a risen life with a fallen mind and heart. It’s a square peg, round hole situation. You won’t get off the earth. But when we focus on Jesus, His word, His people and His will for our lives — there is no force in the world that can hold us down.
The power to live the risen life is always there in Jesus, we just need to maintain the perspective that embraces and reflects this.