Have you been doing any Spring Cleaning? There’s a reason, I think, that we like to get our homes (and lives) back in order this time of year. As the grass begins to green up, and flowers begin to bloom, and children go back outside to play, our hearts and souls shake themselves out of their winter slumbers. We want to take action. We want to plant and build and plan, and we are filled with a hope that our labors will bear fruit.
Spring is a reminder that we can, in fact, flourish.
We were made to flourish. It’s the promise and command we first encounter in the garden: be fruitful and multiply. God did not intend for Adam and Eve to remain in a static state, as blissful as that state may have been. He intended them to progress from one stage of glory onward to another, to an even greater glory, one characterized by fullness and perfection. Eden was good, “very good” in fact, but it was also just a seed, the beginning of something wider and fuller and even more fruitful.
I was reminded about all this over Easter. The hope represented in the resurrection is more than a back-to-Eden hope. It is a promise of the fullness of perfection that results from Christ bringing about a New Creation. Christ in his resurrection and ascension establishes a Kingdom that will flourish into eternity. Sometimes we are so hard at work just surviving (especially in Winter) that we forget that God has a better plan for us. Sometimes we are so encumbered by the frailty of this present world that we forget that God’s plan is for us to flourish for eternity.
This is why Paul says: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). The things of this world, while good, are nevertheless perishable. Only the things of the Kingdom are imperishable, and so we must anchor our hearts and minds in heavenly things. It is Christ’s Kingdom, the New Creation, which will flourish forever, and so it is only in the pursuit of these heavenly things that human beings can truly flourish. In fact, as we by faith pursue the things that are above, we cannot but flourish (1 Peter 1:23ff).
So should I stop my spring cleaning? Should I forsake this earthly garden, doomed as it is to die come November? By no means! Paul isn’t telling us to ignore earthly things. He’s not saying we shouldn’t worry about cleaning house or planting gardens or planning for the future. On the contrary, he is reminding us of their purpose and place. These earthly and perishable things are designed to remind us of the imperishable things to come. In our sinful idolatry we worship the perishable, when in reality our thankfulness for these perishable things should cause us to worship the one who is imperishable.
So this Spring, as we clean and plant and build and plan and labor over perishable things, let your labors be a reminder of the pre-eminence of the imperishable things to come. Work as one who has set their mind on things above. As God blesses your labors here on earth, give thanks to him and remind your soul that this is but a foretaste of the glory in heaven. As you prosper by his grace, give generously to those in need. As you reap the joys of a job well-done, praise the Lord who brings the harvest. In these ways we anchor our hearts in things above even as we labor here on earth, and thus by Christ’s grace we will flourish forevermore.