Not long ago we had the privilege of watching our two granddaughters for an evening. It was a beautiful day, and as the sun was sinking lower in the sky its rays came into our home through the windows on the west side. At one point we noticed the light striking a glass of water making a tiny rainbow spectrum visible. Kihryn, the older of the two girls, noted the colors, and I did my best explaining to a four year old what we were seeing and why.
As the sunlight, in which all the visible colors of the spectrum are present but not immediately obvious, strikes a clear substance at just the right angles, the light is dispersed as it is bent. The rays of light are slowed down just enough to make the colors visible. As sunlight passes through a high quality, crystal clear prism the resulting colors are absolutely striking.
I told the girls that I would purchase a good prism so we could, more easily, use it to see the colors in the future when the rays of light come through our windows. I found a nice little prism on eBay, and now we use it to treat ourselves to a beautiful rainbow light show when the conditions are right.
In scripture it is recorded that both Ezekiel and John the Apostle (among others) had the immense privilege of seeing God’s throne room in Heaven. Both men described the scene around the God’s throne, which included a description of a rainbow. Ezekiel recounts it like this:
The glow around him looked like a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day. That’s what the glory of the Lord looked like. When I saw it, I fell with my face toward the ground. Then I heard the voice of someone speaking.
~Ezekiel 1:28 (NIRV)
John’s description in Revelation 4:2-3 is very similar. Obviously, there are beautiful colors in Heaven where God dwells in “unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16).
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He miraculously rose from the dead after having suffered a horrible death by the torture of crucifixion only days before. Jesus, therefore, has the authority, like no one else in history, to make claims about ultimate things having to do with our lives on this earth and our future lives in eternity. The “wisdom” of other spiritual leaders, while possibly enlightening, is suspect when compared to the knowledge of Christ. It’s like comparing undiffused light with the vivid colors of a rainbow spectrum.
The Apostle Paul was apprehended by the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus where he was headed to persecute the Christians who lived there. The bright light of Jesus’s appearance blinded Paul for three days, and Paul’s life was changed forever. In Colossians, the Apostle Paul gives us this encouragement:
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. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
~ Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)
According to New Testament theology, those who have surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Jesus have died to their old lives, and are now living a new life in Christ. We are to consider everything we experience here on earth in the light of our ultimate eternal residence in the life hereafter. Our affections are to be set on heavenly things, and this should cause us to give up our old selfish passions which dominated our lives before committing them to Jesus. The glory that awaits us “on the other side” should motivate us to consider ourselves “dead” to the passions of this life.
Does this mean that we quit living altogether? Should we sell everything and take on a life of monastic withdrawal? I believe not. The Bible sanctions neither worldly excess nor the life of a recluse who has given up everything in anticipation of the life to come. Instead it is a matter of considering where our true affections lie. Paul explains this more in the book of Colossians (definitely recommended reading) where he warns against legalism and “self imposed religion.”
Setting our affections on things above means that we look through the things of this earth (as light passes through a prism) to the eternal life we will enjoy when this life comes to an end. The fames and fortunes in this world that holds false promises of satisfaction and happiness do not really meet expectations once they are acquired. The wrecked live of countless celebrities who have achieved it all and yet suffer from physical and emotional neuroses should be a lesson to us all that true happiness lies somewhere beyond the glitz and glamour of this life. Our resurrected Lord promises us that a truly satisfying life, full of glorious rainbow colors, awaits us in eternity. This is there where our true affections should lie.