My eight-year-old son is thiiiiis close to earning his black belt in karate.
The pandemic, though, has forced his dojo to blend virtual with small in-person classes. But, the worst part: His black belt test and celebration has been delayed for months.
He's practicing kata and weapons on his own and with his virtual sensei.
It's different and it's hard.
Some days he whines, "I'm too tired." But in the end, he folds his gee across his body, cinches his brown belt, and dives into class again.
I'd love to be able to tell him there's a clear end in sight. I wish I could predict when COVID-19 will chill-out enough for us to return to big gatherings and his black belt test.
My wife and I have told him, "Ya know, buddy, if you can hold on this long and keep workin' hard at karate, you're gonna feel so proud about that black belt."
Our son has worked towards his black belt for four years. Quitting now would betray all the hard work. And the endurance he's building now will carry over into his teen years...well, at least I hope (Parents of teens, is their carry-over character into the teen years!?)
Set Your Hearts...
In this grueling race of 2020, Paul offers encouragement to you. In the previous passage from Colossians, he declared you are dead to sin. Now, he turns to Christ's resurrection...
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now 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 (NIV)
The word "set" implies an intentional seeking. To endeavor with a whole heart. So, when Paul tells you to "set your hearts on things above, where Christ is," he is passing onto you an athlete's mindset.
He's the spiritual sensei in your corner, telling you to keep standing even when it hurts.
He's like Mr. Miyagi training Daniel-san for the long haul.
A crummy spiritual coach would let up, go easy on you, and not push you to set your heart on Christ.
But like Mr. Miyagi working with Daniel until the end, Paul wants to see his spiritual children reach the climax of God's history in victory.
At His Appearing
Paul ends his encouragement with the most fitting goal: the appearing of Jesus Christ in glory.
He says, "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
Paul elsewhere details Christ's return...
- Christ will return triumphantly.
- Those who have "fallen asleep" in Christ will rise from the dead first.
- Then, those who are alive in Christ will meet the Lord as all descend to earth in triumph.
- Finally, we will be with the Lord forever.
If you couple those details with the final chapters of Revelation, you get a picture of a restored Creation, God's Kingdom on earth, and neither sin nor death reigning anymore.
Now that's something to set your heart on!
Right now, life is in flux. A pandemic and political carnage make for some murky waters to shuffle through.
But, Paul's telling you to set your heart on things above, where Christ reigns.
I'm gonna leave you with this beautiful note from The Orthodox Study Bible...
"Remember your baptism! Live according to His Resurrection! Seek your true life in Christ, awaiting the heavenly and glorious final revelation!"
Some encouragement to keep your heart set on the enduring love of Christ...
"From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny."