In his book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, Robert Morgan tells a story related to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. riding the bus across town every day to attend high school. These were the days of segregation in America, and so blacks like Martin Luther King were forced to the back of the bus while whites sat in the front. Even if the bus had no white passengers, blacks still could not sit at the front. If all the seats at the back of the bus were occupied, colored folks had to stand over the empty seats reserved for whites. Confronted with this indignity and injustice, Dr. King said, “I would end up having to go to the back of that bus with my body, but every time I got on that bus I left my mind up on the front seat. And I said to myself, ‘One of these days, I’m going to put my body up there where my mind is.’”
In this story, Dr. King alerts us to an essential truth about life. Our lives tend to follow the direction of our thoughts; our bodies usually end up where our minds are. Our living is invariably the overspill of our thinking. How we need to be reminded that we are not what we think we are as much as we are what we think (Prov. 4:23; 23:7). The placement of one’s mind and the orientation of one’s thoughts have a profound effect on the shape, substance, significance, and success of one’s life. What you and I think about all day long defines our days and sets the course of our lives.
With that in mind (pardon the pun), we better understand the call of Paul to the Colossians to set their minds and affections on things above (Col. 3:1–3). Paul wants the inner disposition of the Christian to be concentrated on and consumed by the things of heaven. Just as a compass points north, so the mind of the Christian must be fixed heavenward, bringing an eternal perspective to life on earth (Phil. 3:20–21). Having pivoted from the doctrinal half of the letter to the practical half of the letter, Paul knows of no better incentive to holy living than a heavenly mind. Paul believed you will do more in this life if you think constantly about the next.
The testimony of Scripture is not that the more heavenly minded we become the less useful on earth we become. Quite the opposite. According to Scripture, focusing on heaven has a positive and profound influence on life in the here and the now. A mind fixed on heaven restores hope in seasons of sorrow (Rom. 8:18). A mind fixed on heaven reaffirms the comforting truth that God is on the throne, that there is no panic in heaven, only plans (Rev. 4:1–3). A mind fixed on heaven reminds us that we are pilgrims and strangers and that our true home lies beyond this one (1 Peter 2:11). A mind fixed on heaven recalibrates our understanding of what is valuable, what is true treasure (Matt. 6:19–21). A mind fixed on heaven reignites our desire to serve the Lord and advance the purposes of that everlasting kingdom (Isa. 6:1–8).
Get up and get going and keep going, for one of these days, while walking on a new earth and beneath a new heaven, our bodies will be where our minds have been these few fleeting years. Amazing!
Make sure heaven is in you before you are in heaven.