I invite you to open your Bibles to Paul’s letter to the Colossians. It’s found right in the middle of Paul’s letters: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians…
Colossae was a city that had seen better days. Sitting on the banks of the Lycus River Colossae was once the center of commerce for the region. It was large, boasted of a great theater, thriving wool industry, and was very prominent due to its location being right in the middle of one of the largest trade routes during it’s time. But when the two sister cities of Laodicea (the district capitol) and Hierapolis (famous for its healing springs) sprang up 10-15 miles away to the Northwest, Colossae began to fade in prominence and importance. By the time of Paul’s day Colossae was a fairly unimportant and unimpressive town, and in 60-61 AD Colossae endured one of the largest earthquakes to ever hit the region (some even say that much of the damage done during the earthquake wasn’t even repaired). To put it mildly, Colossae was easily the least significant city to which any of Paul’s letters were addressed. But, there was a Church in this city Paul had a deep affection for. It met in the living room of Philemon and was largely made up of new believers who were dealing with the problem of false teaching, which threatened the Church’s overall health.
Look at 1:1-2, where we find Paul’s greeting, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” This greeting is a standard Pauline greeting that begins many of his letters, but note a few things in it. Paul immediately brings up his apostolic authority here, saying that he had been made an apostle by the will of God. This means Paul’s life in Christ, Paul’s apostleship, and Paul’s ministry didn’t come from himself, they came from God. Because of this the Colossian Church ought to listen to Paul, because through Paul God means to teach them much. Paul includes Timothy with him and addressed the letter to the faithful brothers and sisters (Greek word adelphoi means family siblings) in Christ. It is no surprise that he begins the letter in 1:2 the same way he ends the letter in 4:18 – with grace; because, as Paul is well aware of, God’s grace is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the entire Christian experience.
I want to ask a question at this point: Do you know the phrase, “You’re so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good?” Do you believe that? Do you believe that someone can be so focused and fixated on the things of God while doing life on this earth that they can actually become useless for this present life? I don’t believe that. I don’t think you should believe that. In fact, I think if you do believe this that you’re in great spiritual danger. I detest the phrase. Let me tell you why: I detest this phrase, and seek to correct all who use it and believe it because it is a lie from hell. To believe that heavenly minded-ness causes uselessness in this present world is opposite of what I find in the Bible, and the opposite of what I find in my own heart after spending time with God. Let me explain: tomorrow is Monday, and every Monday I take off. I usually don’t do anything related to the Church. I like to devote large chunks of the day to family time, to reading the Bible, to prayer, and to any other book I’ve got my nose in. Am I wasting that day? To add to this, from Tuesday-Saturday I spend time studying in more books, and give more time reading in the Bible, and more time in prayer, for myself, for my family, for SonRise, and for preparation for this preaching moment here. Am I wasting my week? More so, am I wasting my life? I spend a lot time being “heavenly minded”, does that make me of no earthly good? My answer is crystal clear: NO. Because after those times I spend with God in His Word or through prayer/praise, God usually moves my heart outward to this world, with a fiery desire to reach it for Him! I find the same thing in the lives of the people in the Bible. The more time I spend with God, the more I want to be of good use during my time in this life.
Therefore I don’t think the problem with the Church is too much heavenly-mindedness!
You know what I think the problem with the Church is today? Rather than being too heavenly minded, I think we’re numb to spiritual realities because we’re too drunk on the world. I think we don’t spend enough time with God throughout our day, in His Word, in prayer, in praise, and because of that gaping lack in our lives we are slowly and steadily decreasing the godly desires in our own hearts and ridding ourselves of the impact we could have on the world for the gospel and the glory of God. The more time I spend with God the more I want to love my neighbor, and the more time I spend with myself the more I want to love only me. So you see, the phrase “You’re so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good” is not only wrong, it’s death to Christian living. It’s not heavenly-mindedness that hinders usefulness and true love. It is worldly-mindedness that hinders usefulness and true love. It is only those people who are so heavenly minded that will do anything good for God in this world at all!