Waiting

Colossians 3:1-17

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.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In our times of worship together over the last few months, we’ve followed Israel through their wanderings in the wilderness comparing their wanderings to our own. It’s something similar to that idea of wilderness that lies at the center of this season of Advent that occupies the four weeks before Christmas. It’s a season of waiting, of groaning and longing for the second coming, the second advent, of Christ in much the same way as Israel longed for his first.

This wasn’t in the time of Israel’s wanderings, but in the time of exile when they were taken from their homes and scattered among a foreign nation; their identity as a people having been all but destroyed. And then later also, after they returned to their own land but under Roman occupation with a puppet king of Caesar’s choosing and foreign soldiers imposing his rule in the streets. You might say the wilderness would be an improvement.

It’s this time in the redemptive history of Scripture that we look towards in this season leading up to Christmas, because we as the people of God have been raised with Christ, our life is hidden with him, and yet we are waiting for him to appear in glory. We are those who have been raised with Christ in his victory over death, and yet we’re still waiting for the day when he will return, the dead in Christ will rise, and the earth will be made new. We are the people of the Resurrection living in the land of the dying, exiles like Israelites in Babylon, citizens of another Kingdom, oppressed like the Jews under Roman rule, living under a puppet king whose name is Death. And yet our hope remains in our true King who is coming soon to bring his Kingdom to bear on this fallen world and to expose Death for the lie that it is.

And so what should we do while we’re waiting? Or maybe the better question should be, how do wait faithfully? Because it’s not a matter of occupying our time with our distraction of choice, but one of waiting diligently and even impatiently. “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:2).

So how do we wait faithfully? It’s not a passive thing, but an action. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on earthly things. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul likens it to changing clothes, only it’s not an external thing of appearances but the internal disposition of the heart, and the actions that flow from it. Take off the old self and put on the new. It’s the baptismal motion of dying with Christ and rising anew in his resurrection. Mortification, putting to death what is earthly in you, and vivification, bringing to life what is good, holy, and righteous.

Ready yourself for the day of Jesus’ return through the grace and mercy of a King who lays down his life for his people. Live into the reality of his Kingdom that is both here and is coming soon, and desperately long for Christ who is your life to appear in his glory.

Pray

Listen to the song linked below and pray these lyrics.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Taylor Whitson, December 1, 2020
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