Grow Deep Part 2: Looking Up
That continual committing of yourself to God is the demarcation point between the old way of life and the new. Belief is important but not enough. There must be follow through. In your new life, you are empowered to look up.
Grow Deep Part 2: Looking Up
Grow Deep, Grow Up, Grow Fruit; that’s the task of a disciple. When you engage in these three activities you are living your life to the full. We’ve started to consider the task of Growing Deep. Growing deep in cultivating an intimate relationship with Jesus, it’s knowing Jesus more. Last time we discovered that intellectual knowledge of Jesus is important but that it is experiential knowledge that is necessary. We know that by practicing the 7 habits of a disciple we invite the types of encounters with God that result in experiential knowledge. I encouraged you to try meditation, part of the 2nd habit of a disciple: prayer, and there is an app you can get called Reflect Christian Mindfulness to help you get started.
As we continue our consideration of growing deep we’re going to make an exploration of the need to look up, to set our minds on things above, and discover that it is a necessary component for growing deep. We’ll do a little experiment to see what direction your gaze is. You leave with six things to do that will help you look up.
In the letter to believers in Colossi we read:
Colossians 3:1-2 (MSG)
So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.
To live the new resurrection life you will need to “Look Up.” What have you been looking down at? The Apostle Paul writes to the believers in Colossi that we get tripped up by looking down. Looking down is considering life from an Earthly perspective, it is holding on to your old way of life, the life you lived in ignorance of Jesus after you have entered into a new life with Christ.
You do recall breaking out of the old way, the old life, the life of ignorance, don’t you? You acknowledged the situation that the dreams you had, the hopes for the future, the love you thought you had, the future you envisioned was little more than a mirage. You have experienced enough pain and rejection, enough betrayal and heartbreak, enough lies and broken promises to know that the world is not right and that you yourself are not right. You acknowledged you were desperate for a change, maybe you realized you were being held prisoner, you thought that there had to be a better way to live. You believed that Jesus offered you a chance to begin again, to be liberated and delivered from all the mistakes, all the victimization, and perpetrations. You trusted in the good news of the gospel that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 (NIV). You acknowledged you were perishing and believed that in Christ you had a chance to live your life the way it was intended to be lived. The acknowledging and believing and then you made a commitment to be a Christ follower, a disciple of Jesus. Now you want to grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus.
That continual committing of yourself to God is the demarcation point between the old way of life and the new. Belief is important but not enough. There must be follow through. In your new life, you are empowered to look up. Looking up is to concern yourself with spiritual things, a holy agenda. Because we can get tripped up if we don’t look up. Even though you are empowered to live this new way, we all tend to wear the habits and attachments and addictions of the old ways of life into the new. Habits are things we do because we’ve always done them, we are attached to the things we think we cannot live without, and we are addicted to things we think we need to survive. When our habits, attachments, and addiction are full of the stuff of earth, of the secular, of the material, our gaze is downward. That downward preoccupation prevents you from growing deep, it trips you up.
To grow deep we have to stop looking down. If not you are going to live a “divided life, a life that is partly secular, partly spiritual, part of this world and part of the world above.” (Tozer, The Crucified Life p.34) You’ve heard the term riding the fence or trying to get the best of both worlds. Paul tells Christ followers to rid themselves of this duality.
Colossians 3:5 (MSG)
“…that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God.”
We’ve been taught that “doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy” is egoism, our self-centeredness, our desire to be in charge. Egoism is the way to death. Paul continues:
Colossians 3:7-9 (MSG)
It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire.
Strip off the old. To grow deeper we have to put to bring to an end our preoccupation with the things of this world, we have to see what is important from a higher perspective. It’s by looking up you experience Jesus and in experiencing Jesus can place the appropriate value on all your pursuits.
Here’s an experiment I would encourage you to try. (Tozer. The Crucified Life, p.31) This experiment is to help you to find out where your head is at if you’re looking down or looking up. Fold a piece of paper lengthwise so you have two columns. Label the left column Things Below, and the right column Things Above. If I was being generous you may find something you can use in your notes.
Down the left column, I want you to write the things you want in this life. This is private and personal, so be honest with yourself. What do you want?
Just to get you thinking here are some of my left column desires in no particular order:
Financial security, Good Health, Good Reputation, Nice Vacations, Thriving Ministry, Being wanted, Loving Wife, Intimate Friends, Respectful Children,
More Opportunity, Free to do what I want, and Grant healed
There are 12 desires off the top of my head. I’ll give you 30 seconds to finish up.
In one of those top 10 lists I read (http://www.doyletics.com/index10.htm ): A high paying job, Save Money, Save Time, Look Better, Live longer, and a Want to be popular
Cherry picked from different top 10 lists: Happiness, Fame, Sex, More Leisurely days, A quicker way to get things done, and Approval.
In the right-hand column, the Things Above I want you to write: The Mind of Christ, Faith, Hope, Love, Trust in God, and Service to others.
Let me define those 6 things for you. The Mind of Christ is being an obedient and humble servant. Faith is trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove. Hope is the confident expectation that all will end well. Love is keeping God’s commands, meeting the needs of others. Trust in God is the firm belief that God is able and reliable. Service to others is what you do to help others.
Now I want you to match up the two columns. Draw a line from an item in the left column that matches up with one of the six items in the right column.
Do you need to do a little reordering? Did you find any ill-fitting clothes? Did you discover anything that needs to be put to death? Did you find some desire that is keeping you looking down? Get rid of it because it is keeping you from looking up, and if you’re not looking up, you can’t experience Jesus, if you don’t gain firsthand knowledge of God you don’t grow deep, not growing deep results in a stagnant relationship with Jesus.
Notice that the items in the right-hand column are all things you do. Things you act upon. They are behaviors. As you make having the mind of Christ, exercising faith, hope, love; as you trust in God, as you serve others two things will happen in your life, first you open yourself to encounters with God. Just a reminder, the flame of experience must be contained by the candle of reason. Encounters create that experiential knowledge and experiential knowledge, personal experience is what grows your spiritual roots down deep. The second is the result of the first: You find yourself dressed in God designer wardrobe.
Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG)
“…the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
This wardrobe becomes the way you do life. The wardrobe describes your attributes, the way people describe the type of person you are, the way God always intended for you to be. The deeper you grow the more Christ-like you become. We’ve got a double win as you make having the mind of Christ, exercising faith, hope, love; as you trust in God, as you serve others, you look up. Looking up you encounter Jesus, by encountering Jesus you grow deep with personal knowledge of Him and this in turns transforms you into a wonderful human being.
To live the new resurrection life you look up. You look up by getting rid of the things that keep you looking down, things that get you occupied with the things of earth, the things that egoism wants. You look up by practicing the 7 habits of a disciple.
You might wonder, what happens if I become so heavenly minded that I am no earthly good. There are spiritual safeguards built right into looking up. I would also encourage you to remember Jesus words:
Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV)
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
As you look up life will fall into place.
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