Sunday, 23 March 2008

Set your minds on the things that are above - and you'll change the things that are below

It is the feast of the Resurrection (aka Easter).

Anglicans - members of the Church of England - believe that "Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherefore He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until He return to judge all men at the last day." (Article IV)

But what difference does it make? It is sometimes said that people are "So heavenly minded, they are no earthly use."

That can never be true of Christians. If we are to be of any earthly use, we can never be too heavenly minded. In the reading set for the epistle today in the Book of Common Prayer, St Paul writes, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

The failures of the Church are largely that we have set our minds on things that are below - sometimes with the hope of affecting the world. But the paradox of the gospel is that if you want to change the world, you must live as if this world is passing away, and you are just passing through.

Seek gain, advantage and prosperity in this world and it will swallow you up because the values of this world - the things which you need to "mortify" in yourself - will conform you to its ways. You will bend to the world, or fight and slay for the kingdom, and you may gain the whole world, but it will have conquered you.

Die to the world, and you will change it.

And it needs changing. We live in an increasing compass-less society yet where whoever holds the tiller of the 'ship of state' does so with an ever-firmer grip. In the name of democracy, we are dictated to by our fellow men and women as never before.

As Christ arose, so we must arise to new life. Dying to self and to the world we will change both ourselves and the world in which we live.

Revd John P Richardson
23 March 2008

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  1. (Chelmsford)

    John, you have misquoted the article, at least compared with the BCP version. Not only have you messed around with the capitalisation, you have also replaced "wherewith" by "wherefore". The latter makes little sense in context, but the former is significant as it teaches that the ascended Christ has a material body. See this post for more discussion.

  2. Hi John, how's it going?

    I have to disagree with some of what you said here, although obviously I agree that we are to live in holiness and not be conformed to 'the world' and in that sense 'the world' is passing away.

    but the Kingdom of God is here! I like the way that Rob Bell puts it in many of his sermons - Heaven crashes into Earth. You know 'will be done on Earth as in Heaven'. - in that sense we are very much to be concerned with building God's Kingdom on Earth, God still loves his creation and we are not 'passing through' we're in the business of partnering with God in building his new creation, aren't we?

    every blessing

    (Stowell, Maidenhead)

  3. These are thoughts most inspiring, encouraging and challenging.
    As I read your post, I was also reminded of Christ's words which remind us that we are to be light in this world, and that light should be as plain as a city on a hilltop.

    Kind Regards,

    Andy Terry

  4. Which will teach me not to cut and paste in a hurry from this site:
    although it is generally a very helpful resource (though sadly, I think, the author is no longer editing it.)