Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Heavenly Perspective

What is "a heavenly perspective"? Is it living life with your head in the clouds? Is it living life with your mind so preoccupied with the afterlife that you don't engage in this world? Most people probably think of the old saying, "he's so heavenly minded that he's no earthly good". Well maybe that is how some people are...but that's not the biblical teaching about having a heavenly perspective!

According to scripture we are to have a heavenly perspective and that is described in various ways throughout the Bible. We are told to "look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always" (1Chronicles 16:11), to sing to Him, glory in Him, seek Him, look to Him, remember Him (Ps 105). We are told to "set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Col 3:2). I could go on but the point is clear. The Bible COMMANDS that we have a heavenly perspective. So does that mean that we are to disengage our minds from this world and forget about earthly things? I believe the answer is no...but my opinion means little. What does scripture teach?

The 1st Chronicles passage above helps us see the proper relationship between having a heavenly perspective and an earthly engagement when we realize that it is set in the context of David establishing His rule over the nation of Israel. David was bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem and associating himself with Yahweh as his (David's) rule over the consolidated kingdom was taking shape. In no way did David or anyone else take the exhortation to look to the Lord and to seek His face to mean do not engage in their earthly duties and tasks. In fact, a large part of the context of that passage is an exhortation to thank God for what He was doing and had done IN THE EARTH for the glory of His name.

The Psalms passage referenced above is similar. We are told to give thanks and call on Him, sing to Him, sing praise to Him, glory in His name, seek Him and rejoice in Him, seek His face, remember His wonders. Wow! With all that focus on God maybe there is no time for earthly tasks! On the contrary. The entire context of that Psalm is "His wonderful acts" (vs 2) and "the wonders He has done" (vs5) ...in the earthly lives of His people! It is from encountering the living God in the midst of our very earthly lives that we are brought to a place of joyful worship. We rejoice and worship Him and focus on Him because of His greatness and glory as revealed in our earthly context. Then, when others around us see these things and our response of praise and joy, they will see God for the infinitely valuable treasure that He is. By that we "make known among the nations what He has done" (vs 1) which is another very "earthly" task.

In Colossians 3 we see maybe the ultimate biblical explanation of this issue. Paul tells his readers to set their hearts AND minds not on things below on the earth but on heaven where Christ is - i.e. focus on Christ and His glory (vs 1-2). He even goes so far to say, "put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature" (vs 5). But later in the passage we see how he defines that focus and what putting to death things of our earthly nature means. He says to, "put off your old self with its practices and...put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator" (vs 9-11). Then in vs 12-13 he describes a LIFE STYLE that is very "earthly focused" but in the image of its creator Christ. In other words, living with a heavenly perspective is living our earthly life in a way that reflects positively on Christ and exalts His name as people observe our way of life. Paul goes on to get very specific about our earthly relationships between husband and wife, child and parent, slave and master and how they will be affected by living with our hearts and minds set on Christ.

To conclude then, having a heavenly perspective is NOT disengaging from the world but rather engaging the world with a wholehearted focus on and love toward the One who created the world. This single minded focus and wholehearted love toward Christ will then guide, shape, define, and transform all your earthly relationships in such a way that others will see His beauty and glory, and the nations will hear of His wonders!

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