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Gospel centred sermons, based on the lectionary often in advance.

Jul 28, 2016

Bible readings (Focus Col 3:1-11) Direct file Download Click here

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” says Paul in Colossians 3:2 (NRSV) and Jesus says “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:20, NRSV) In today’s reading he urges us to be “rich toward God”. (Luke 12:21)

    What does this mean? Are we being urged to be so heavenly minded we are no earthly use?
    I think the opposite is true. I think it is the earthly minded like the rich fool of Luke 12 who are of no earthly use. He stored his wealth away and did not share it. This meant that neither he nor anyone else benefited. If on the other hand we believe in the resurrection, if we believe that when Jesus was raised to new life, we were also given new life, then we have eternal security. We do not need to store up riches for ourselves on earth. We are free to share and love and serve others.
Indeed the Jesus story says that Jesus died, and was raised and lives for everyone - even you! In that story, you share in his glory in heaven. If that is who you are, and if that is who every person could be then imagine what the world could be like. Imagine living that out. Imagine a world where “...there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” (Colossians 3:11, NRSV) This is what we should seek and set our minds on. If we did what would our earthly world become?

Questions for thought or discussion.
What could be the results of living with a vision of a heavenly reality? Think of some people of vision. What things have they achieved?


Andrew Gillies (Blog author)
two and a half years ago

A version of the text of the sermon (A few gaps sorry)
Set you mind on the things that are above, Not on the things that are on earth.
For my CEM in this last week I attended a half day seminar - ministry from the overflow. The basic premise was (prayer, scripture reading...) If we do this then we will have the energy and the inspiration. Surely though as ministers and Christians we should be doing things. Isn’t there a danger that if we are heavenly minded we will be of no Earthly use?
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm....
The idea is that all this heavenly stuff will blind us to the needs of those around us and to oppression etc. We will believe in Sugar Candy Mountain and put up with anything.
On the other hand if we think about practical things...
I think today’s reading are right however when they suggest the opposite. In the Gospel reading the rich fool is very earthly minded. He is extremely practical. If he had a financial advisor or an economist on had they would applaud his efforts. He is after all... How useful is he?
On the other hand let us think of some people who are or were heavenly minded. Nelson Mandela... William Wilberforce... Henry Dunant Alan Walker... John Flynn...
Let me give an example of someone who was both earthly and heavenly minded. Howard Hughes - On the one hand he was very earthly minded - like the rich fool he was deeply concerned with his own security. Personal, financial and health. This led to him by the end of his life being a recluse - cut off from friends and family confined to a hotel suite. On the other hand he had a heavenly vision in the sense that he was an incredibly creative man who could see what the world could be. He had a vision of the ideal world. In film making, aviation, and a number of other fields he dreamed of the ideal and the impossible and in many cases made it a reality.
What does it mean to be heavenly minded? Part of it is the heavenly vision of parts of the Bible like Revelation and John 14 and 1 Corinthians. A vision of worship and glory and of all creation gathered together. The sort of vision we heard in the choir piece today. A vision of a new home and of being face to face with loved ones, able to sit together at the table, share a meal and embrace.
It is also the vision of the New Creation in its completion. Everything will be restored and healed and made new. The new heaven and the new earth. Everything broken restored and everything degraded restored to dignaty. We are clothed with the new self which is the image of our creator.
Thirdly and most importantly of all it is Jesus. Jesus reaching out and touching the leper, the maimed and the blind.... Jesus bringing healing... Jesus mixing with the prostitutes... Jesus teaching the vision where the poor are blessed... the peace makers... the meek... the poor and the poor in Spirit... Enemies are loved... Persecutors are prayed for... Jesus on the cross praying forgiveness...

A world where as Paul sees it there is no more “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).” (Colossians 3:5, NRSV)
“But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8, NRSV)
Or in positive terms a world in which there are no longer divisions. Men and women are reconciled to God and to each other where as Paul puts it In Christ, “In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” (Colossians 3:11, NRSV)

Can you think of anything that is less earthly minded and yet can you think of anything which has been of more earthly use???!!
So “Set you mind on the things that are above, Not on the things that are on earth.” Amen.