Bible Studies in Colossians
Col 2:20-3:3: Set your sights on the heights!
by I Gordon
 ↩ One book I read said that 'Church history reveals that Christians sometimes outdid the Pharisees in their extremism. By the fourth century monks were living on a diet of bread, salt and water. One devised a cell so small he had to double up his body to enter it. Another spent 10 years in a circular cage. Grazier-monks lived in the forests and grubbed for wild herbs and roots; some wore only a loincloth of thorns. Simeon Stylites set the standard for extremism: he lived on top of a column for thirty seven years and prostrated himself 1,244 times a day.'
 ↩ Ok, fair enough... this one may not be a big deal or problem to you. I hope it isn't! But being a Kiwi it is fair to say that it was, at the time of writing, a big thing in New Zealand!
 ↩ I read an illustration of this in an online copy of 'Our daily bread'. It said:
An article in a San Francisco newspaper reported that a young man who once found a $5 bill on the street resolved that from that time on he would never lift his eyes while walking. The paper went on to say that over the years he accumulated, among other things, 29,516 buttons, 54,172 pins, 12 cents, a bent back, and a miserly disposition. But he also lost something - the glory of sunlight, the radiance of the stars, the smiles of friends, and the freshness of blue skies.
The author of the article went on to write:
I'm afraid that some Christians are like that man. While they may not walk around staring at the sidewalk, they are so engrossed with the things of this life that they give little attention to spiritual and eternal values. Perhaps they've gotten a taste of some fleeting pleasure offered by the world and they've been spending all their time pursuing it. But that is dangerous. When God's children, who are 'seated with Christ in the heavenlies,' give their affection and attention to a world that is passing away, they lose the upward look. Their perspective becomes distorted, and they fail to bask in heaven's sunlight. Taken up with the baubles of this world, they become defeated, delinquent Christians. Buttons, pins, and pennies, but no treasures laid up in heaven. The apostle Paul said, 'If ye, then, be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above' To live for the things of this world is to miss life's best. Let's set our sights on the heights!
 ↩ In his journey Christian meets Prudence who asks some important questions about how he gets relief from worldly or carnal thoughts...
PRUDENCE: Do you sometimes think of the country from which you originally came?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, but with much shame and loathing. Truly, if I had a deep yearning for that country, then I might well have taken the opportunity to return. But now my heart desires a better country that is a heavenly realm. Therefore I prefer to press on.
PRUDENCE: Do you not still carry with you in your mind some recollection of the things that you were formerly involved with?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, but greatly against my will, and especially those inward and carnal reasoning's which all of my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted to revel in. But now all those things only grieve me; and should I be able to choose only what I think, I would choose never to think of those carnal things anymore. But when I would be doing that which is best, still that which is worse remains with me.
PRUDENCE: Do you not sometimes find that personal carnality is vanquished when at other times it was of great trouble to you?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, but those times of conquest over carnality are infrequent, though when they do occur such hours are truly golden.
PRUDENCE: When you experience these precious times in which carnal annoyances are vanquished, can you remember by what means these triumphs were obtained?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, when I meditate upon what I saw at the Cross, that will do it; and when I look at my embroidered coat, that will do it; also when I look inside the scroll that I carry in my chest pocket, that will do it; and when my thoughts are warmly stimulated about where I am going, that will do it.
PRUDENCE: And what is it that makes you so desirous of going to Mount Zion?
CHRISTIAN: Why there I hope to see living he who hung dead on the Cross; and there I hope to be rid of all those things within me that remain a constant annoyance. At the Celestial City they say there is no death, and there I shall dwell with the type of companions that I like best. For to tell you the truth, I love my Lord because he released me of my burden, and I am weary of my inward sickness. In view of these circumstances, I would much prefer to be where I shall die no more and my companions shall continually cry, 'Holy, Holy, Holy".
I like that. Christian got relief when meditated on what he saw at the cross (which is what Jesus did for him), when he looked at his coat (robe of righteousness - a gift of righteousness that makes us perfect in the sight of God), when he looked at the scroll (which is the Bible - that always turns our attention to the things above) or when he thought about where he was going (which is Heaven - the Celestial City as he calls it).
 ↩ I had a wee example of this a couple of weeks ago. I went for a ride on my mountain bike and was riding along a grassy walk way alongside a little creak. As I rode along I saw someone about 50 meters over to my left lying in the grass... which didn't seem quite right - An odd place to rest really. So I decided to go over and check if they were ok. As I approached I could see that it was an older man, lying on his back, with his eyes open, still holding on to his walking stick in his right hand. I started saying 'Are you ok? Are you ok?' But he didn't respond and it became clear that he wasn't ok. He was actually dead. I could see that his mouth was open and clear but he wasn't a good color so I sprinted off to the nearest house and we rang 111. I then went back to the man with a cell phone and the emergency lady on the 111 call talked me through CPR on this man for the 5-10 minutes until the ambulance arrived. They then worked on him for a further 20 minutes or so before assessing there was nothing they could do. It is only the 2 nd time in my life that I have been the first to find someone dead and it's an odd experience. As I did the compressions on his chest I could hear the air coming out of his mouth and his eyes and mouth were open but nobody was home. He had gone and all that was left was his body. I remember thinking as I counted out the chest compressions - 'Where are you now old man? You went for a Saturday afternoon walk in the park and ended up entering eternity. Where are you now?' It's a sobering thing. I know others have had funerals and seen people die recently and it always gets you to think about what really matters in this life. What do we see as important? What are we living for?
 ↩ As I was preparing this message during the week, I saw a new Pepsi ad on TV. It had Beyonce dancing around and they had a new Pepsi slogan at the end - 'Pepsi: Live for Now!' 'Yeah, live for now. Live it up. Woohoo. Yeah, don't think about tomorrow.' 'Don't think about what's to come. Just live for now! Yeah'... ' Um, really? Does the world really need to be told to 'live for now'? Isn't that what most are doing anyway? According to the Bible that is the problem, not the solution. Everyone is already just living for the here and now. How about this for a new slogan - 'Pepsi: Teach us to number our days, that we main gain a heart of wisdom - Pepsi!' What do you think? Gunna fly? Yeah, ok... granted... it may not excite and rev. the people as much as 'live for now!' The bottles may not start flying off the shelves straight away with such a slogan. But at least there would be some wisdom and truth in what they say!