Thursday, February 17, 2011

Alienated Enemies

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in yours minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation"
Colossians 1:19-22

These verses reveal such a great deal about the Biblical story as a whole.

First, in verse 19, we get a glimpse of the cosmic scope of redemption. God is reconciling ALL things to himself, whether things on earth or in heaven. If we recall, God is the creator of all. He is sovereign over all. All of creation displays His glory and His greatness. In the beginning, God created the earth, the heavens, day and night, the land and sea, plants and animals. They were all good. Lastly, He created man. Although God loves His creation, and His creation was 'good', man had a special place in God's heart. To reflect His very presence on His created earth, God made man in His own image. How amazing is that? We were created in His likeness. We were created with a special capacity, to know and be intimate with our creator. We were created with a special capacity to reflect His glory, to love and be loved. We walked with God in harmony. We were created to be the caretakers of His creation, to mediate His presence. It was very good.

Secondly, these verses present the magnitude of the fall. While God's creation was good, and He so freely and lovingly made man in His own image, and graciously walked with man in utter harmony, Man rebelled. Man turned. But, the fall of man didn't just effect one man (Adam), it effected the entire creation. The Woman (Eve) would experience pain in child bearing. The ground was cursed, and Adam's work would bring him pain and toil. Harmony was broken between Man and God, between Man and Woman (relationships), between Man and earth (nature). That is why 'ALL' things are to be reconciled. Not just individual souls. The Gospel is about God bringing about a complete restoration or reconciliation to 'ALL' things. God redeeming a people for himself is the center of this complete restoration.

It is important to notice the words Paul uses to describe our previous fallen state. He says that we were 'alienated' and 'enemies'. When Paul says 'enemies' he isn't merely stating a passive disruptance between us and God. It is not 'God hated you', where we have passively received this conflict. Rather, we are actively enemies. The fall shows our rebellion. It is us turning our backs on God, not God turning His back on us. We are actively hostile towards God. It has been that way from the beginning. The Bible tells one story, where time after time, this theme of restoration is found. I'll probably make another quick post in a few days trying to show how, from since creation, to the fall, God through various covenants has been bringing about the restoration, or re-creation of His original good creation.

Thirdly, this passage shows the magnificent means by which peace is reestablished. Given that we have openly rebelled against God, and whether we think so or not, have declared in our hearts our autonomous hostility towards God, it is amazing to think that God would even try to win us back. But that is why the Gospel is so amazing. We play the part of the undeserving. The Bible tells time and time again, of God begging His people to turn back to him, to believe unto Him, to follow his guidelines. Yet, just like in the garden, when God told Adam not to eat the fruit, we repeatedly choose to disobey, we repeatedly choose to rebel. This is open hostility.

But, along the way, God promises us something unbelievable. He says,

31 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

God promises to make a way to re establish peace. It will come through a new and better covenant. Whereas before, God's people, Israel, repeatedly broke the covenant, God says in the new covenant, He will put His law on our hearts, and that they will truly be His people again. He will forgive their iniquity and forget their sins. This is the Gospel. From the beginning, God had a marvelous plan to restore His people once and for all. Jesus was the answer. The Son came to earth, and lived the perfect life, and died the death in order to forgive our sins. He died the only death that could possible bring peace. More so, God gives His Spirit to His people, so that they are continually transformed. The law of God no longer condemns us, but is written on our hearts. This is reason to praise God. Though I was in constant rebellion, constant hatred towards God, though I never upheld my end of the bargain, though I was unfaithful to my call to bear God's image, Jesus died to reconcile me. I was at war with Him, yet He crossed enemy lines and took the sting of death, so that there would be peace. Praise be to God!

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