Colossians 3:1-11 and 12-17;
We speak of heaven as being a place, but we know that it is not a physical location. It belongs to the realm of spirit. In contrast to the life that we experience day by day, life there is perfect. Everything is as God wants it to be. Instead of people living away from God, they live in intimate, love-filled relationship with God. Instead of life being taken over by selfish desires, live is actually lived in love for God and for one another. People reflect the love-filled nature of God as they were always meant to. Rather than thinking of it as a place though, I find it more helpful to think of heaven as a state of being or another form of existence. People like Paul thought that, in the resurrection, Jesus entered into this form of existence and now shares in God’s reign, or as he put it, “is seated at the right hand of God”. However, Christ is not remote or out of contact, and the boundary between earth and heaven is not as hard and fast as people usually imagine. Right here in this world, through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can know something of the life of heaven, of life lived in a joyful and faithful relationship with God. It doesn’t matter what religious denomination a person belongs to, whether they see themselves as top dog in their world or a reject, whether they are refined or rough and ready, all that matters is Christ. Through him, we are not restricted to living only on the earthly level; we are introduced to living in the heavenly dimension. We need then to live as people who belong in that realm. That means setting our minds and hearts on the things of heaven and avoiding those things that arise out of selfish desire. Colossians 3:5 and 8 gives a list of the sort of things to avoid while Colossians 3:12-17 gives a more positive indication of what that involves.
- How does the idea of heaven put forward here differ from popular concepts of heaven?
- Which is more helpful to you, to think of heaven as a place or to think of it as another form of existence?
- Do you have any advice to give to people trying to get rid of the things listed in Colossians 3:5 and 8?
- What strikes you as most important in Colossians 3:12-17?