Just Change Your Mind?
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2
In my drug addiction, I made up my mind a thousand times to stop. I swear to heaven and Earth that I’ll quit. I’m done. No more. Never again. I’d squeeze my eyes and clench my fists, promising myself that I’d get sober. Then, just a few days later, I’d be back at my pills. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I’d changed my mind, hadn’t I? I didn’t want this. So, why did I keep going back to it?
The truth was, I was addicted. I’d done a thing so many times that I’d rewired my brain to do it that way. I could stop for a few hours or days, but eventually, my broken mind would return to its broken behaviors. To change my mind – to undo the damage I’d done to it – I thought I just needed to simply decide not to do it anymore. I didn’t understand addiction.
In today’s passage, Paul told the Colossians – and us – to seek things that are above instead of things that are on earth. He said we must seek them and set our minds on them. He knew our natural mindset was on our own self-destructive appetites and he said that in our faith, we had to purposefully undo years of following self.
For most of us, this isn’t something we do simply by deciding things will be different. Just making up our minds to eat healthy for the rest of our lives rarely works. To undo years of self-destructive behavior we need to seriously disrupt our behavior – for the rest of our lives. We need structural, tangible, purposeful change – forever.
What does this mean practically? If I want to seek the things above (the spiritually healthy) instead of the things of Earth (the spiritually unhealthy) then I must make radical and real changes in my life. If I’ve got a drug addiction, I may need to leave my job for a time to go to treatment. I must attend meetings, abandon certain friendships, and change my life. If I’m addicted to pornography, I may need to surrender unlimited internet access or my smart phone (gasp!). I will need to choose honesty, meeting regularly with others for accountability.
We don’t undo years of habitual behavior simply by flipping a switch in our brains. We undo years of addiction only by choosing opposite behaviors. Then, over time, God heals our minds as we do whatever it takes to daily abandon ourselves and follow him.