To be a Christian is to be actively involved in holy thinking.
In a letter that Paul wrote to Colossae (and churches in the area), he said:
“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 Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” – Colossians 3:1-4
Notice how Paul commands the Colossians to seek “the things that are above,” and to set their minds on them. If anyone today said the phrase “the things that are above,” people could take that to mean whatever they wanted. It’s an incredibly ambiguous statement on its own, but Paul doesn’t leave it alone. He gives two defining characteristics to “the things that are above.” It’s “where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God,” and it’s “not…things that are on earth.”
So, we might conclude that Paul is thinking of the throne room, where God in all his glory is constantly exalted, praised, and worshipped (Revelation 4). The throne room is “above” (metaphorically speaking) and is free from “things that are on earth,” obviously. Paul, writing a few verses later, explains what is “earthly” as “sexual immorality, impurity, passion [for evil], evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Colossians 3:5, 8)
We could then say that “the things that are above” refer to anything that results in exaltation, praise, and worship of God – devoid of unrighteousness.
Now, when we “seek” something, we usually seek for the finish or completion of that something. For example, an athlete seeks for the gold medal. They may greatly enjoy and get satisfaction from the sport (or you could say, journey), but their eyes are fixed on the gold. And why do they want the medal? Because obtaining a gold medal proves the excellence they’ve achieved in the purpose of their sport. To break it down, they seek the proof of their fulfilled purpose.
So, what is Paul getting at here? We, as Christians, understand that all of humanity was made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), which means our purpose is found in reflecting God accurately. The two primary ways we reflect God accurately is by finding our full satisfaction in him (as he finds his full satisfaction in himself), and loving others (as he freely loves us). Because of sin, we’ll constantly fail in reflecting him well, but we strive for the day when sin will be no more.
Paul writes, “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4) There’s a day coming when Christ will return, and all those who have believed on him in faith will reign with him and live eternally in his presence among the many saints. Another writer, John, writes that “when he appears we shall be like him.” (1 John 3:2) And we know that Jesus is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Hebrews 1:3) In other words, we’ll accurately reflect God! Our purpose will be achieved! We’ll finally obtain the proof of our purpose.
But, he hasn’t returned yet. We haven’t completely conformed to Jesus’s image. We haven’t completed the race. But Paul doesn’t want us to give up. He wants us to move forward by engaging in holy thinking.
Holy thinking is different thinking. In fact, it’s supernatural thinking. It’s a kind of thinking that focuses on pure, perfect, and powerful worship of God – without any grain of sin. It’s a kind of thinking that takes practice – that gives us a taste of the “things that are above.”
Paul makes it clear that the reason for why we engage holy thinking is because we’ve “died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) When our conversion took place, we spiritually died with Christ, and rose again with Christ. This “risen” life we experience is best described by Paul when he writes,
“Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:4
Our new life demands new thoughts. Yes, our new life demands holy thinking. A kind of thinking that seeks and sets its mind on the pure, perfect, and powerful worship of God – untouched by any hideous sin.