Seek the Things that Are Above
So there were false teachers in Colossae who were trying to convince the church that there was a spiritual realm inhabited by numerous angelic (actually demonic) spiritual beings, the way to which was through secret knowledge, ascetic behavior, and various random regulations. Well, they were right about there being a spiritual realm, but the path which they outlined has more to do with the occult than anything else.
Paul shows the Colossians another way: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Yes, there is a spiritual realm, but we do not seek the spiritual realm for the sake of the spiritual realm. Yes, there are angelic beings but they are not our concern. Yes, there are ways in which we are to behave but have nothing to do with trivial matters such as handling, tasting, and touching. As one born again of the Holy Spirit through the atoning work of Jesus Christ and thus reconciled with the Father, our concern is with our Triune God—loving, worshiping, and obeying Him. So “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” The irony is that with all the false teachers’ concern over “spiritual things,” those things really had nothing to do with true spiritual matters but were merely worldly and ambitious, majoring on minors for the purpose of making one feel superior.
But “the substance [reality] belongs to Christ” (2:17). And in telling us to seek the things above, Paul is telling us to seek Christ. Oh, with Christ we get the things that are above, but that is not where our focus is to be. When one considers the breadth of the Bible, not too much is revealed about “things above.” Indeed, for the Christian, “things above” mean nothing apart from Christ. He is Christ whom we are to seek and seeking things above has to do with seeking all things that pertain to him. This is related further in the very next line: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Notice again that things above are all about Christ.
This short but profound passage also speaks to the means to this only true and authentic “spiritual” pathway, and that is by dying to self and rising with Christ—which is another way of speaking of our rebirth. But such dying and rising must have its daily application in our lives. In short, I must deny myself and take up the cross and follow him (Mark 8:34). And what can be more wonderful than to hear that our lives are “hidden with Christ in God!” Yes, seek the things above—you know…where Christ is.