From Pauses for Pentecost
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above, where Christ is,
seated at the right hand of God.
Becoming Easter people involves a radical transformation of our identity. Here is an image that you might find helpful: When we consciously put our trust in Jesus, our old names go into God’s obituary column. In that moment, God also places our new names in the divine birth column. God gives us a new identity. In the words of Paul, we have now been raised with Christ into a new life in God’s kingdom. As the New Testament scholar Tom Wright puts it, “You were raised with the Messiah; so you possess a true life in God’s new world, the ‘upper’ or ‘Heavenly’ world. That’s where the real ‘you’ is now to be found.”
In case this all sounds super-spiritual, let me describe one of the first down-to-Earth consequences of our new identity. According to Paul, it relates to where we set our minds. As those who have been raised with Christ, we now set our minds on God’s kingdom, on God’s values, on God’s dream for our world. We begin learning to think differently about our lives and choices. No longer do we pattern our thinking on how people in the world around us think, nor do we obey blindly what we are told to do. Rather, we focus our thinking on things above. The most important change that comes with our new identity in Christ is the transformation of our minds.
What does this mean in practical terms? To begin with, we know that what counts most, according to the thinking of the world, is to be successful, powerful, and rich. But people whose identity is shaped by their belonging to Christ think differently. What ultimately counts most in the Kingdom of God is not success but faithfulness, not power but servanthood, not material riches but being rich in the Spirit. While this change in our thinking does not automatically lead to a change in behavior, it does point our lives in a new direction. How wonderful it will be if overnight we are transformed from self-centered, selfish, and greedy people into people whose minds and lives are centered only on God and God’s dream for the world.
As Easter people, we affirm our new identity: We have been raised with Christ. Now, with the help of his Spirit, let us learn to think and live differently.
Choose today, in whatever situation you find yourself, to consciously set your mind on what you believe the Spirit wants to happen.