15 October 2014Colossians 1:21-23
“He has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel.” (vv. 22-23a)
What a wonderful thing it is when someone loves you so much that they will forgive you almost anything. But that 'almost' marks the limit of human love.
What an amazing thing it is to know a God who will forgive anything, without limits.
So, if we are loved so much that God always wants to forgive us and proved that in the life and sacrifice of Jesus, does that mean we can live life however we please because God will forgive anything that we do?
There must have been a hint of this kind of warped thinking in the Colossian church because there is so much emphasis in this letter on holiness and always being true to the gospel (the good news about Jesus) that Paul is preaching. The death of Jesus will reconcile people to God, but they need to be "holy and blameless and irreproachable". That puts a very different slant on the picture. Reconciliation is not just forgiveness, it also demands a change of heart and an effort to live a life that is worthy of that amazing love. That is not easy. Living up to the standards that Jesus set never is. It means taking the truth of the gospel and standing firm in the hope that following Christ's example will make a difference, not just on a personal level, but to those around who are watching the working out of good news in the life of Christians and of the Church.
It appears that Paul was concerned that this truth of the gospel had somehow become twisted for the Colossian church. And given that there were so many different influences from Gentiles, Gnostics and Jews, then it may be that old systems of belief had not been entirely eliminated and there were still people of influence who clung to attitudes that distorted the gospel. So Paul proclaims his credentials as a servant of this gospel and encourages them to stand firm on the words that have been preached "to every creature" (v. 23). This is the true gospel and offers real hope.
- If God is prepared to offer forgiveness to everyone, what do you understand as being the conditions that may prevent this reconciliation from happening?
- What does living a holy life mean to you?