“Look up and look out.” I’ve been reminding myself to do this lately. I say this to myself – not because I’m afraid the sky is falling, like Chicken Little, but because I can be so self-focused and earthly bound, instead of Christ-focused and kingdom-oriented.
It’s what I say to myself when I need to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” The apostle Paul teaches me in his first letter to the Corinthians that although I “live in the world, [I] do not wage war the way the world does. The weapons [I] fight with are not the weapons of the world.” The context here is about Paul standing firm against those who attacked his ministry. While I am not facing the same kind of attack that Paul did, I must recognize that I am daily in a fierce spiritual battle against very real enemies: my own flesh, the world and the devil. The Warrior King, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is divinely powerful, is my source for demolishing the strongholds in my heart (II Corinthians 10:3-5).
The battle begins in my mind. Am I thinking and believing the truth found in God’s Word about life, marriage, parenting, possessions, friendships, ministry, work, death? Or am I thinking according to my flesh and the world and the devil? It makes all the difference to lead my thoughts to Christ and His word rather than to be led by my thoughts, passions, and emotions down a path that is contrary to Christ and His word.
So I say to myself “Look up” – look up at Christ! The apostle Paul put it this way in his letter to the Colossians: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-2). So, to “look up” means to set/fix my heart and mind on Christ, who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), instead of setting my heart and mind on myself or the things of this world, which are passing away (Luke 21:33). It means to rehearse what Christ has taught me about Himself from His Word (Col. 1:15-23; 2:6-7):
· that He is the image of the invisible God;
· He is the firstborn over all creation;
· He is the creator of all things, visible and invisible;
· He is before all things and in Him all things hold together;
· He is the head of the church, the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He is supreme;
· In Him all the fullness of deity dwells and through Him God, the Father, reconciles all things to Himself;
· He makes me at peace with God through His blood shed on the cross;
· He presents me holy in God’s sight and causes me to be established and firm, not moving away from the hope I have in Him;
· He causes me to live rooted and built up in Him;
· He strengthens my faith;
· He causes me to overflow with thankfulness.
I am so thankful to know my life is hidden with Christ in God! I am so thankful to know that while I cannot hold anything together, Christ can and does hold all things together for His own glory, the good of His body, the church, and my personal good.
Seeing the greatness and goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ frees me from thoughts of self and motivates me to “look out” – look out towards others, and be others-focused, not self-focused. When I focus on the greatness and goodness of my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the cares of this world are put in perspective. I worship Him and want to encourage others to worship Him, too.
Everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, needs to worship the One who made them, setting their hearts and minds on Christ. Everyone, no matter who they are or what they are going through, needs to behold Jesus, and say with the psalmist, “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good; His love endures forever.” Read Psalm 118 and write down everything that our great God and Savior teaches you about Himself from this psalm, looking up to Him in worship and then out to others – sharing what you learned from this psalm with them.
Help us, Lord Jesus, to set our hearts and minds on You and to encourage others to do the same, for Your glory and the good of Your body, the church!