Where is your mind?

It is often an accusation thrown at Christians that they are to heavenly minded to be of any earthly use. In this post I want to raise the question in our minds (and hopefully force us to find a biblical answer) to the question: 'how should Christians worship, work, have relationships and in summary, live, considering that we are both citizens of heaven and workers on earth'?  The idea here is not to give complete and thorough answers (it would require more time, words and brain than I have available!) rather my aim here is to raise the question in our minds and briefly present two main arguments. I would like to encourage you to think through this issue with me and post below.

We know that the scriptures tell us to think and live in the light of spiritual realities. One of these verses is  Colossians 3:1-2"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 you life is hidden with Christ in God"(ESV). This passage seem to flow logically like this:
a. You Christians have been "raised with Christ" in other words; because when you believed you were united with Christ, when he died you died with Christ and were also raised with him. 
b. If you are united with Christ and therefore raised with him then you should live according to that reality and set your minds on heavenly things where Christ who is the one that you are united to is. 
c. If you are going to set your mind on things that are above (because that is just being consistent with who we are in Christ) then you can't have your mind on things that are on earth at the same time. 

So, in the light of this scripture (and possibly others) is it actually possible to be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly use?

Just as a little comment on the side I would like to observe that those who in the scripture had the closest encounters with God (or, had their minds most on Him) were those who were of most earthly use. Examples to draw to mind would be; Isaiah (Isa 6), Jeremiah (Jer 1), Moses and Jesus. 

The argument the other way has been heard more often, I believe, than the one above and so will require a little less statement. If we are heavenly minded we are ultimately absent minded as we are not actually in heaven. If absent minded, then effectively useless as no man can do what he isn't willing to apply his mind to. God requires us, as his people to be actively involved in his mission to the world to save his people and to mature them. Because we have a job to do on earth and setting our minds on heavenly things will distract from that job we should seek to keep our minds on earthly things. Furthermore, those who do insist on thinking all the time about heavenly things are effectively rebelling against God's purposes for them.

So, that is two of many arguments on the subject. Here are some questions for consideration:

1. What is is to be 'heavenly' or 'earthly minded'? 
2. Is it possible to be both 'heavenly minded' and fulfill effectively God's requirements of us on earth?
3. How does understanding the pattern of history or Gods plan for the world, from creation to consummation help us to understand rightly the relation between our citizenship in heaven and on earth?
4. Is it possible to be to heavenly minded?
5. What are the relevant biblical passages, themes and verses for this issue and how do they shed light on the subject? 
6. 'how should Christians worship, work, have relationships and in summary, live, considering that we are both citizens of heaven and workers on earth'?

By Thomas van den Broek

1 comment:

  1. Thomas, what an excellent subject! As a loving and responsible parent, I often keep an eye on the Walking Worthy blog and am greatly encouraged by the comments I read. It is good to have 'heavenly - minded' conversation and considerations from young people. I would not normally comment, but this is so after my own heart; something I have a 'bee in my bonnet' about, I hope you don't mind a few comments from me.

    I have to say that I absolutely hate the phrase that 'Christians can be too heavenly-minded to be of any earthly use.' I suspect you do, too otherwise you probably would not have started this discussion! I really do think it is often bandied about as a form of permissiveness and is used as an excuse to be wordly and as an attempt to temper Christian ardour that others may find challenging or even worse, offensive or repulsive.

    As you have said, it will not be possible in this blog to do real justice to this subject, but I will offer a few comments for consideration. I would also like to recommend a book: 'The True Christian' by John Angell James, which is relevant to this subject. I am reading this aloud in our family devotion time at present, and it is available to read for free on gracegems.org if anyone is interested in further reading.

    John Angell James says in 'The True Christian' that 'holiness is heavenly-mindedness, a turning away from things seen and temporal, to things unseen and eternal.' God is Holy and we must therefore be holy (Lev 20:7 & Eph 1:4). We can not be 'heavenly-minded' if we are not holy! Of course this is a santification process, and it is ongoing and a work of the Holy Spirit in us, but nevertheless it is something that we have to do, otherwise we would not be exhorted to it.

    How do we become holy and heavenly-minded? In brief, it is by a mortification of sin, hating sin and turning from it, and setting our 'affections on things above.' As we turn eyes heavenward, as we set our affections on things above, the things of this world do become 'strangely dim.' We need to be habitually spiritually minded, not just as church on Sundays, or when we are with other Christians. John Angell James says, 'the thoughts of the truly spiritual minded always kindle religious affections and lead to corresponding actions.' As you pointed out, Thomas, scripture shows us that those who were the most spiritually minded were also the most effective on this earth, and I especially liked your example of Jesus, after all who could be more 'spiritually minded' than Him, and who has ever been more effective than Him? Also He is our example; are we not called to follow Him?

    How can we be heavenly minded/holy? Again John Angell James suggests that we need to set our hearts upon it. He says of he who is heavenly minded that 'his hopes of Heaven do much to destroy his love of life - and fear of death.' Thisn person must be willing to be heavenly minded; be desirous to have it; it must be attainable in his mind and he must believe the reality of it. We can hardly attain something we believe is unattainable. I would also add, God would not exhort us to something that is unattainable also. So, we need to set our hearts upon it; 'set your affection on the things above, not on the earth.' We need to be diligent in reading the Bible, God's Holy Word to us. We need to meditate upon the scriptures, to thinbk of things that are holy and pure (Phil 4:8). We need to engage in holy conversation - praise God for this site and the opportunity it affords, and of course we must examine ourselves to see what is not holy and confess to God, repenting and mortifying all that is not holy.

    After all, I do not believe it is possible to be 'too spitiually minded' because 'to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace' (Romans 8:6).

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