Colossians 3:2 challenges each of us as believers, everyday, with the words,
“Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”
What, exactly, does this mean – practically speaking? Well, I’m not a Greek scholar (yet), but with an avid appetite for the English language in written form particularly, this is how it broke down for me.
To set: “to place; to lay down; to put something in position (e.g. in preparation for something) ~ set the table for company ~ set the runner’s block ~ set the clock ahead/back ~ set down a burden.
“On things above” – when I set a jar of tea or rice or flour or whatever on a shelf, it doesn’t depend on me for support once it has left my hands. I cease to be the force sustaining it, meaning I do not prevent it from coming to ruin (aka, yielding to gravity). It is entirely, totally up to the structure of the shelf to support the weight of that object. Depending on the integrity of the shelf, I feel safe trusting it… or I don’t. Would I trust something like my grandmother’s heirloom button jar to a rickedy, broken, bug-eaten shelf or some ledge too narrow to fully support it? No, definitely not. But would I look at a smooth, broad shelf with braces and brackets, screwed into the studs of the wall, even edged with a lip to keep objects from possibly falling off and say, “I can’t trust that. What if it fails?”
Yet some people do just that, even people living in the Church.
Honestly? It takes faith to leave whatever you’re carrying around on the shelf, to trust and let the weight slip out of your hands. Is it easy? Not really. Will it ever be? I’ll answer that with another question: When you really trust the One taking that burden from you, are you even afraid? Or are you relieved? Here’s the thing – “set” objects don’t dangle or teeter or roll. They sit, safely waiting to be put to use, or put to rest. The strangest thing is to see people who are desperate for something to lean on or somewhere to rest their burdens standing next to the Rock of Ages and unwilling to set anything on Him. The saddest thing is to see is believers, people living the Christian life of Christ, also clutching those jars and bottles, boxes and knapsacks and stones but never yielding them to rest on Christ.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” For those who want to argue that Christianity is complicated, I’d
like to ask them how many hoops they think that little verse is asking people to jump through. A friend once explained to me that in order to lean on anything, you have to put weight against it. The more you trust a structure for support, the more weight you put on it and – in a sense – the more value you place upon it. I say “you”, but this applies to me and anybody else. (Notice how I’m not afraid to use “absolute language”. My English teacher would be upset, but there’s no reason to impair the truth.) The trouble comes when my pillar, my frame of reference, my mountain shifts or crumbles, leaving me on my face, bruised and shaken up. Was it the mountain’s fault for changing on me? No, not when I choose to entrust it with the weight of my life. Besides, it’s a mountain. What does it care that my life falls apart when it moves? There’s no promise that a mountain can hold up to stress and time forever.
So, what are you leaning on for support? Can it hold you up? Indefinately?