Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your 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... Col. 1:21-22
"Once I was alienated from God"...that is such an interesting statement given the fact that I often feel alientated from God, and this not because I think God has run away from me but because I think I am far from what He knows I should be. Yet, He has reconciled me to Himself not by my own new faithfulness nor because of my perfect record, but because of the work of His Son Jesus. Jesus, who was blameless (which I am not), who created everything that is made (which I did not), who is wisdom (which I often have not) became nothing, gave up His fame and praise by men and reputation (which was perfect) to become, well, me (who has a reputation that shifts like the tides, and usually less favorable than I like to believe). He was despised by the religious people who felt they knew and used Scripture far more correctly (and self-righteously) than He did. He was doubted by His own disciples. He reconciled those who were "not His people" and called them "His people". He called those who were "not His children", His beloved children.
Yet, this second Adam did what the first failed to do. He obeyed every demand of God's holiness and perfect character in a way that nobody after Adam ever could do, particularly me. He fulfilled the Law, the very Law which for me is certain death apart from the way it shows me my need for someone other than myself to meet its demands. HE reconciled me to God. I did not.
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I know this verse and can say it without thinking of it much. But, if I think of it only on the surface, I can acknowledge that it tells me He sacrificed in a way I cannot comprehend when I didn't deserve it. I was ignorant and blind, but He loved me anyway. I was mocking Him and feeling awfully proud of my self-sufficiency and independence, and He served me anyway. I had no idea that I needed anyone outside of my own awesomeness, but He entered into the messiness of suffering, ridicule, misunderstanding, blindness, disease, and even judgment to rescue me from my own delusions of self-grandeur. (All of this, by the way, is true of my daily experience. My default mode is to feel quite smug and superior in my own blindness to the realities of what is true about my own heart.)
So, He then asks me to reconcile myself to others as He has reconciled me to Himself. WHAT!?!?
You mean that person who just used Scripture to condemn me(showing me my condemnation by the Law without showing me my righteousness in Christ)? You mean that person who didn't come to me with their judgments (of me and my actions) but talked to someone else who told me instead? You mean that person who has been acting "foolishly" in my estimation and not "responsibly" as I assume every aspect of my life to be handled?
Interesting that Adam never apologized before God committed Himself to His great Rescue plan. Interesting that no one in the Old Testament was choice, but chosen. (Clowney) Interesting that in my blindness, God does not spit at me, but that it is His kindness that leads me to repentance. When I was His enemy in my mind, He died for me. He has given me sight, even if just partial. He has stirred my heart, even if just mildly. I did not find Him. I did not seek Him out. I did not save myself. I cannot transform my heart. He did, He did, He does and He is.
If this is the grace in which I now stand, why do I not likewise run to be reconciled to those from whom I am separated? Why is distance more comfortable than unity? Why have I become so comfortable with isolation, almost preferring its safety to the reconiciliation which the Gospel says reflects better what it is that God has done for me? Doesn't this grace, this mercy, this unreasonable love of God push me out of myself and my self-sufficiency into the messy lives of others? Shouldn't my preference for tidy numbness, clean isolation, safe "island unto myself" living make me question what "Good News" it is that I am believing? Does a life that despises most others and is in need of nobody need Jesus?
In these moments, when my anger overtakes me, when my self-righteousness is evident by my utter lack of compassion, mercy and genuine love for others, I need to be reminded that He has called me flawless, whose flaws are evident to all. He considers me without blemish, whose blemishes are actually infecting others around me. I who am guilty on so very many fronts am presented without accusation because of the person and work of Jesus. Should this not push me out into the lives of others, seeking the same kind of messy and dangerous but unifying reconciliation? And this not because they "deserve" it, but because I of all people do not, yet have received it even so, and lavishly so?
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:13-14
Oh that I might become one who seeks authentic peace, which is often only achieved through messy humiliation, and one who is increasingly discontent with isolation and division. Oh that I might be one who pursues others in the pursuit of peace and authentic reconciliation, not on my terms, but on His.
1 week ago