Christ is in the Center of Everything! He is the center of our faith and prayers. He is our only hope – Christ in you, the hope of glory! He is at the center because of who He is. He gives us the power to see it through by making us alive when we were baptized, forgiven, and given victory through the cross. Christ is the Center of Everything and everything relates to the way we think about things. Our thoughts, our heart, our mind – this is the core of who we are. Christ is at the center of this also. But that is especially challenging these days.
*A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the pandemic had negatively
affected the mental health of 56 percent of adults.
*In April, texts to a federal emergency mental-health line were up 1,000 percent from the year before.
*The situation is particularly dire for certain vulnerable groups—health-care workers, COVID-19 patients with severe cases, people who have lost loved ones—who face a significant risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.
*While the pandemic affects our mental state more than we probably realize, it’s always been true that the daily life of the Christian spills over from the mind.
*That, along with all the other issues and pressures of life can occupy our minds. We do have to think through things, but at the center, our mind should be centered on Christ.
Keeping Christ in the center of our mind is a practical matter that requires our attention. Three ways to keep your mind on Christ:
SET YOUR HEARTS ON THINGS ABOVE
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. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.Colossians 3:1-4
This is the result of the truth we talked about last week. When we were baptized we adopted the identity of Jesus and made Him Lord of our lives. Our focus then rises from the things of this earth to the things Christ in heaven! This is the new perspective of the Christian – and we often forget it. We can get so caught up in our own temptations, the world, everything around us, that we forget important things like:
- We belong to a Kingdom that is not of this earth.
- We live in the shadow of a returning Messiah.
- We live under a different set of guidelines in life
- We walk through each day with hopes that go beyond our own boundaries (faith)
The heart is our mind – the inner life we live every day. When it is centered on Jesus, it leads us to:
Love God (Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’)
Love Others (Romans 15:5, Philippians 2:5)
Live with the outlook that we will see Jesus (1 Peter 4:7, 8)
Keeping our mind on things above doesn’t mean we ignore the things and people around us, it means we adopt the loving view that God has for all people!
Moving Away From the Life of the Past
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practicesColossians 3:5-9
We are always in a battle – everyone has their battles. This is why it does not behoove us to have a judgmental spirit – we’ve all got our battles to fight. When we give in to them, God is not pleased with us. We are to be moving away from the life we lived in the past before we devoted ourselves to following Christ. We are constantly leaving behind the old self.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24
Move Away From Five Sins of the Flesh:
- Sexual immorality- every kind of immoral sexual relation.
- Impurity – embraces lurid imagination
- Lust – the emotion that leads to sexual excesses.
- Evil Desires – Wicked, self-serving desires.
- Greed (Idolatry) The desire to possess what belongs to someone else
“Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire?” (Proverbs 6:27)
We are to have left this kind of life behind. (7) It was our old unredeemed selves. Paul is famous for his lists – and this list is like many others. It’s not meant to be complete, but an indication of the kind of life that should have been left behind. The problem is that we can find ourselves tolerating or even rationalizing these things in our lives.
Also Move Away From Five Sins of the Heart (8-9). None of these things characterize the new life in Jesus.
Replace Old Ways With New Ways
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.Colossians 3:10-11
All believers are one in Christ … and we are all seeking to put on a new self, live a new life, one that is ‘in the image of its Creator’.
Barclay: One of the great effects of Christianity is that it destroys the barriers which divide.
Barclay: T. K. Abbott points out how this passage shows the barriers which Christianity destroyed:
- It destroyed the barriers which come from birth and nationality – all nations gather at the Table of the Lord.
- It destroyed the barriers which come from ceremonial and ritual. circumcised or uncircumcised – all become one in Christ.
- It destroyed the barriers between the cultured and the uncultured. “The greatest scholar and the simplest son of toil in the world can sit in perfect fellowship in the Church of Christ.”
- It destroyed the barrier between class and class. The slave and free came together in the church. In the presence of God the social distinctions of the world became irrelevant.
How do we keep Christ in the Center of our Mind?
Make the Choice daily by praying for it. Seek out God’s help! (Philippians 4:6-8 … the peace of God…will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.)
Make the Choice to Trust (Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.)
Make the Choice to Listen to God. (John 8:32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”)
Make the Choice to think about the best things. (Philippians 4:8 …whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.)
It is so true that one of our most necessary efforts is to guard our hearts and that’s an intentional choice we make always. (Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it
determines the course of your life.)
We can only do this with the help of Christ who makes us alive when we follow Him. (Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him
through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.)
Hughes, R. Kent. Preaching the Word: Colossians and Philemon: The Supremacy of Christ. Crossway, 1989
Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.