And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him . . .
– Colossians 1:21-22 (ESV)
The straightforward drumbeat of truth from Colossians continues.
Notice how Paul points to the state of our minds when we were unsaved; alienated and hostile. Before I became a Christian I often wondered what it was that people who loved Jesus were getting at. I think I admired them, somewhat, but I didn’t quite get what they were about, and I certainly didn’t understand what Jesus was about. Something about a cross and “dying for my sins” (whatever that means, I would think to myself), but I didn’t really understand.
I don’t claim to fully understand now, but one of the most striking things about redemption is that when Jesus saved me I began to understand. It wouldn’t be too dramatic to say that it was like blinders coming off my eyes. My mind, which had been alienated, separated, foreign to God, began to see him. And the wall of hostility and incomprehension toward the Dying Savior was demolished.
Now it seems that I can’t understand why people who don’t know Christ don’t see the truth! It seems so plain . . .
Of course, redemption isn’t a psychological exercise and Paul is writing here about more than our depraved and broken minds. The alienated and hostile mind that he describes produces evil deeds. And that’s another thing I never knew before; I never realized that I was evil. But the moment I finally saw the truth of my own depravity was the moment I began to seek for Jesus.
We’re all fallen and evil, by nature. In College my friends and I used to listen to a song called Am I Evil by the band Diamondhead. The chorus went like this:
Am I evil?
Yes I am.
Am I evil?
I am man.
Now there’s some straightforward, spot-on theology in the lyrics of an (as far as I know) un-Christian band. But the symptoms and proof of our evil permeates our world; it is in every newscast, nearly every bit of entertainment, it languishes on the pages of our books, is the subtext of most of our conversations and dwells deep in our inner thoughts. Without the redemption of Christ we are hopelessly evil. And all through the sanctification process we still struggle with our fallenness.
At least I do. Daily.
Thank God for the gift of reconciliation through Christ that he has given us! Becoming a Christian isn’t “turning over a new leaf”. It is becoming a new leaf! And one finally, finally capable of bearing good fruit (to strain a metaphor a bit).
“. . . he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him . . .”
Examine that sentence fragment for a bit. Meditate on it. Notice the finality with which it is stated. He has now reconciled us in his body of flesh by his death.
He died for a specific reason. And the death of the only begotten Son of God is not something that God chose lightly. It was for a particular purpose: “in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him”.
I’ve struggled with shame most of my life. Whenever someone asks that classic ice-breaker question “So, what’s your most embarrassing moment?” I often want to respond “um, all of them.” I am, in my natural state, full of reproach, full of blame, full of shame.
But my destiny in Christ, and yours too if you are his child, is to be presented to the Father holy, and blameless, and above reproach!
That’s why Christ died. To reconcile you to God through his death and to sanctify you and redeem you beyond what you can imagine. And, I’ll hazard that for many of us the goal Christ has for us goes beyond our desires, because most of us desire to hold back some of what we call ourselves. But our destiny in him is to be fully and completely his. He died to redeem all of us, and he will settle for nothing less. He will make it so.
Holiness, no blame, no reproach . . . child of God, that is your destiny!