Is it just me, or has life become a lot more chaotic lately?
Every day, the news cycle is a veritable avalanche of scandal, catastrophe, and drama. The airwaves and smartphone screens are chockablock full of bad news and ill tidings, from threats of nuclear war to political intrigue to sexual abuse scandals. And perhaps I’m imagining it, but it seems like this atmosphere of bad news—all day, every day—has caused us, as a society, to become increasingly tense, on edge, and combative toward one another. From virtually every corner there seems to be constant griping and swiping at one’s political enemies, and every perceived slight results in overreaction and overinflated outrage. It’s especially bad on social media, but even in our offline lives, chaos, tension, and militancy seem to be the order of the day.
Surely, such a state of affairs cannot be healthy.
Long ago, the apostle Paul imparted to the Colossians some advice that seems eminently suitable to our day: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1–3).
It’s a very difficult directive to carry out, because we find ourselves invariably bound up with the cares and affairs of the world. Yet Paul suggests that just because we are in the world, we need not be consumed by the world and its preoccupations.
So, when the talking heads on cable news are shouting at each other, alternately praising or deriding the president . . . set your mind on things above.
When national institutions become hopelessly encrusted with corruption . . . set your mind on things above.
When foreign regimes adopt blustering and belligerent postures toward our nation and our nation’s allies . . . set your mind on things above.
When your friends and relatives are busy bickering with each other on Facebook about politics or social issues or movies or sports . . . set your mind on things above.
When celebrities appear on television to preach about their pet issues, and athletes take a knee to protest the National Anthem . . . set your mind on things above.
Here we are, a week and a half into 2018, and many of us have already faltered in our New Year’s resolutions to eat less or exercise more or give up some bad habit. All of those goals are well and good and honorable, but perhaps we would all do well to make this our resolution, not just for 2018 but for every year and every day: let us set our minds on things above—where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God—and not on things of this earth. We should do this, not just because it will improve our moods and decrease our stress levels and cut through the chaos, but also because our identity is determined, first and foremost, by our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ: “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
David Gunn is director of Regular Baptist Press.