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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Wrong Horizon

We need to raise our sights a bit.

Pitfalls for the Mind (4)

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’” Luke 12.16-19

The problem with unseen things
The writer of Hebrews explained that true faith, faith that represents maturity in the mind of Christ, results in assurance of salvation and evidence in line with the unseen things of Christ (Heb. 11.1).

What are those unseen things?

They are those things which exist in the unseen realm of heavenly glory, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Paul exhorts us to set our minds on these things, and not on the things of this world (Col. 3.1-3). Our lives, he insists, have been hidden with Christ in God. We are being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, and we are on a journey toward the new heavens and new earth, where righteousness dwells.

By contemplating Christ exalted in glory, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of the heavenly court, adored by departed saints and serving angels, and working even now both to uphold the world and everything in it, and to prepare an eternal dwelling place for us, we may expect our vision to expand, our expectations to soar, and our thinking, planning, and living to mature in line with the mind of Christ

.Put another way, a sound mind, one that contributes mightily to a strong soul, focuses continually on Jesus Christ and the glory of the unseen realm.

The problem with unseen things, of course, is that they are unseen. And for too many Christians, the seen things of this world have become about as far as they can see into the precious and very great promises of Christ and the eternal blessings of His heavenly Kingdom.

The third pitfall toward maturity in the mind of Christ – besides complacency and neglect of the Law – is our tendency to focus on the wrong horizon in our walk with and work for the Lord.

It is well with my soul
For too many of us, the health of our souls and our relationship with Christ is measured in material terms. We have a great church, plenty of Christian friends, a good Bible study group, a happy family, good job, nice home and two cars, possessions and leisure time, and money in the bank. What we apply our minds to – all our planning, anticipating, preparing, and doing – is whatever populates our temporal horizon. We organize our days around the things of here and now, and scarcely ever consider the City to Come, which the great saints of Scripture strained to see and strove to attain (Heb. 11.13-16).

Solomon wrote that his son was much more oriented to things “under the sun” than we are to things “under the heavens.” Can the same be said of us?

Not knowing – or finding it too difficult – to set our minds on the things above, where Christ is seated in heavenly places, we focus on the temporal horizon of our journey, exerting our best thinking and efforts toward maintaining and increasing the things, conditions, and circumstances which are the source of our wellbeing. We are aware, if only vaguely, of the unseen realm where Christ rules in glory, surrounded by departed saints and holy angels, in an environment and atmosphere of the most exalted beauty, goodness, and truth. But because we either do not know how to see into this realm, or find setting our minds there too difficult, we nod toward our exalted King and give lip service to seeking His Kingdom, as we invest the best part of our attention and strength indulging, enjoying, and increasing our material comforts.

If we are not careful, we may end up like the man in Jesus’ parable, or, more likely, like Demas, who loved this present world so much that he abandoned the field of spiritual struggle, forsaking his Kingdom-and-glory calling, and leaving his colleague to languish in a Roman prison (2 Tim. 4.9, 10).

The mature mind
The apostle Paul insisted that the person who is mature in his thinking takes as his focus in life “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3.14). He continued, “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind…” (v. 15). The mind that is maturing in the mind of Christ is set on the far horizon of the City to Come, which Christ is even now preparing for us, and takes its bearings in life by the North Star of Jesus, exalted in glory. Whatever it takes to train the eye of understanding to peer beyond the veil that separates time from eternity (Eph. 1.15-23), allowing us to set our minds on the things that are above, we need to learn and practice, until the far – and far more beautiful – horizon of glory to come is the primary focus of all our lives (Col. 3.1-13).

Having possessions, being comfortable, and enjoying life are not bad things. They’re just not to be regarded as ends in themselves. God does not bless us with a good life in temporal terms merely to make us happy with things. All that we have in this life we have received from Him as a trust (1 Cor. 4.7). When we are focused on the City to Come and the far horizon of God’s glory, we will receive His gifts with praise and thanksgiving, and use them as stewards for the progress of His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit. Thus we avoid making idols of our possessions or our comfort, and instead employ these as means to the end of glorifying God now and working for the progress of His Kingdom.

People who are mature in their thinking, think about their lives from the perspective of coming glory. Knowing themselves to be seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2.6), they find their true happiness in being hidden with Christ in God, and they use the benefits and opportunities of this earthly sojourn, not as means to temporal happiness, but as happy resources for serving the Lord Who bought them, owns them, and calls them to use all things for the praise of His glorious grace (1 Cor. 10.31).

Our minds will lack the soundness we require in an uncertain world until they are anchored in and focused on the unseen things of Christ.

For reflection
1.  How might a person be able to tell when his happiness was more dependent on material blessings than eternal ones?

2.  How should we practice setting our minds on the far horizon – Christ exalted in glory, and the City to Come?

3.  Will it really make a difference in how we live, if we focus on the far horizon as our true and defining destination? Explain.

Next steps – Preparation: What do you “see” in the unseen realm, where Christ is seated in glory? How do you keep that unseen realm in focus? How might you spend more time filling out this vision and meditating on it deeply?

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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