[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:13-23

“Another” Waterfall | Hawaii | March 2022
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
(Wreckless Love, by Caleb Culver / Cory Hunter Asbury / Randy Matthew Jackson. see full source information and link to the YouTube version of this song below)

Ir reminds me of the movie Ransom where a very wealthy father played by Mel Gibson offers a huge ransom – not to the kidnappers, but to whoever is able to return his son to him, or bring the kidnappers to justice. His resolve and commitment to attain the return of his son is remarkable. His willingness to go to great lengths is inspiring. It is, however, but a faint reflection of the unbelievable lengths to which God went to rescue and redeem us. And for some he sends rescuers who will go to great lengths to complete the rescue. 

I’m thinking of people like Peter Fleming, 27; Jim Elliot, 28; Ed McCully, 28; Roger Youderian, 31, and Nate Saint, 32. These five missionaries went to the Ecuadorean rain forest to bring the good news of Jesus to the people there. They were killed by a group of Waodani tribesmen. Later, Mincayani, one of the tribesmen was converted and eventually Nate Saint’s son returned to the village where he becomes part of Mincayani’s family. Thank God for people who will go that far to bring the love of Jesus to others. It’s sometimes a long trip. But it’s an all-too-short trip compared with the journey of grace Jesus took in order to redeem us. 

Are you living in the shadows of shame? Do the mountains of fear loom between you and God? Have you walled off your heart to God’s peaceful presence? Is there a lie holding you captive from a life of true joy and purpose? 

There are two ways that chasm may be spanned. One is to give way to God’s love and believe in his mercy, forgiveness, and grace for you. Jesus has redeemed us and has now reconciled us in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present us holy and blameless and above reproach before God. Many who are reading this blog are living in that joy. But it could be that you are destined to be part of God’s continuing quest to bring the favor and blessing of God to others. 

You may know someone who is living in darkness, walled off from God, deceived by Satan’s lies. Might God be using you to kick down doors, shine the light of grace and truth, climb over mountains of excuses and rationalizations, to bring them to himself? This may be what you need most fully to enjoy the redemption won by Jesus.

It’s not a matter of getting to God’s grace; that’s already been given. But living fully from God’s grace is an adventure of faith that is also part of the journey of grace.

Wreckless Love

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so so kind to me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
And I couldn’t earn it
I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
And I couldn’t earn it
I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Caleb Culver / Cory Hunter Asbury / Randy Matthew Jackson
Reckless Love lyrics © Be Essential Songs, Bethel Music Publishing, Watershed Worship Publishing, Cory Asbury Publishing

[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:13-23

Our Little Friend | Hawaii | March 2022

You came from heaven to earth to show the way, from the earth to the cross my debt to pay. From the cross to the grave. From the grave, to the sky. Lord I lift your name on high. These words from a contemporary Christian song that was a favorite of mine years ago only begin to describe the journey of grace that Jesus took in order to redeem us. 

I like to think of the incredible glory, bliss, honor, and majesty that Jesus experienced from the beginning of time (the Word was in the beginning and was God, and became flesh – cf. John 1). He came from that glory to the ignominy of the cross. He did that so that we would be reconciled to God, at peace with him. Holy and blameless and above reproach. Imagine that! Above reproach. No one can lay a charge against us because of the righteousness of Christ. I want my actual outer life to reflect that inner reality of Jesus’ mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love. 

David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:13-23

An Abundance of Green | Hawaii | March 2022

My son tells the story of a road trip he took while in college. They were coming home for the Christmas holidays. His soon-to-be wife was in the car, along with another friend who was hitching a ride to his home. He asked, “Are we there yet?” They had not moved an inch. My son’s reply: “Yes! Get out.” They had miles to go before they slept, as the saying goes. They had not gone far at all – to say the least.

Sometimes we may not realize how far we have to go in our relationship with God. Or how far we have come. That’s mostly because we live day to day without giving much thought to the incredible journey of grace we’ve traveled. Or the impossible-to-comprehend journey of grace God took to rescue and redeem us. We’re thankful, to be sure, of God’s love. We rejoice in his mercy and forgiveness. We pray for his help and support. We look for his wisdom and guidance. But we seldom look over the chasm of utter doom and destruction from which we have been rescued and that lies between us and God apart from that grace.

Paul points these people to the extent of God’s rescue from their wayward lives and rebellious hearts prior to being reconciled to God. That they were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds is no small claim. It’s a thing of the past. But the past is history they needed to claim. It’s a matter of humility. It’s also a matter of God’s mercy and grace. The call to remember their former brokenness was also a warning. If they do not continue in this faith, the implication is clear. There is a blessing and status to be forfeited.

I don’t like to think about this. I’d rather believe we can all live well and celebrate with the angels in blissful happiness. Without worry of being lost. Without danger of losing the gift of God. But maybe the warning is needed. Maybe?!? I’m thinking it’s here for our edification. I’m thinking it’s a warning. I don’t think it’s a moment when we haven’t actually left on the trip, asked “Are we there yet?” only to hear God answer, “Yes. Get out.” But I take this as a serious warning to remember the height from which we might fall – apart from God’s mercy and a life of continuing faithfulness (Cf. Revelation 2:5).

Thanks be to God for his mercy and grace! We do have a past. But we also have a Savior by whom we have been reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to be presented holy and blameless and above reproach before him. I don’t believe we never sin after our conversion. But I do believe we must not take any sin lightly, and by so doing cheapen the grace of God. A sober reminder for me. Maybe for you, too, dear reader.

David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:13-23

“Boiling Pots” downstream from Boiling Pots Falls | Near Hilo, Hawaii | March 2022

I’ve noticed something about the way my wife and I deal with leftovers differently. It may have to do with our unique personalities and approaches to life. Her’s is decidedly more reserved than mine. That’s not a critical remark. In fact it may be a complement. I might could learn something from her. What has that to do with dealing with leftovers? I’m inclined to eat the last two tablespoons of the roasted veggies, or piece of salmon. She’s more inclined to save them for tomorrow’s veggie omelette or salad. Or when we do put them in containers, I’m often choosing a smaller one than she would. “It’ll fit in this one,” I’ll remark.

Which brings me to this delightfully mysterious truth in verse 19. All the fullness of the deity was pleased to dwell in Jesus. This is another way to say, “The Word became flesh.” This is another way of saying that Jesus is not just the son of Mary, but the Son of God, from eternity true God, and for a while true man on earth. 

I am struck by the idea that God put himself into human flesh. He took on bodily form. He became one of us. He did not remain aloof. He did not wipe out the world that he had created, even though man had corrupted it by his waywardness and rebellion. He came to deliver us. He came to reconcile all things to himself through the cross of Jesus. It took a man to redeem lost mankind. And God put himself fully to the task of it. 

“Two mighty words; ‘fullness’a substantial, comprehensive, expressive word in itself, and ‘all,’ a great little word including everything. When combined in the expression, ‘all fullness,’ we have before us a superlative wealth of meaning.” (Spurgeon)

Even more importantly I note that God was pleased to do this. Reconciling us and all things to himself. Doing it through the cross. Coming to earth and dwelling in bodily form. Making all this happen through the cross – the death of His own son. God was pleased to do this. The Greek word, εὐδόκησεν, is an expression of God’s pleasure and indicates that God was not begrudging in this act of reconciliation and salvation. The word has the same root as is used at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son, with him I am well pleased.” It enlarges God’s heart to see us redeemed, reconciled, restored, and rescued. 

God is all in for us, and pleased to be so. Where do we need to reflect that today? 

David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:13-23

Boiling Pots Falls | Near Hilo, Hawaii | March 2022

“Dad, I’ve noticed something. When you preach, no matter what you’re talking about you end up talking about Jesus.” My son was sincerely wishing to help me be a better preacher. To be fair with him, he might have had a point. But at the same time, so did I. I want to get people to Jesus in any case, no matter what the sermon is about. For I truly believe that, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” That being the case, I believe he should be preeminent in my preaching. 

Because Jesus is all that – and more – I feel compelled to bring the hearer to Jesus every opportunity I get. John’s gospel was given so that the readers and hearers of it would believe that “Jesus is the Christ,  the Son of God, and that by believing they may have life in his name. (John 20:31) My hope is to give life to my hearers (and readers!). Hopefully you’ll encounter Jesus here regularly. 

I love this passage because it gives so much glory to Jesus. Attaching words and phrases like firstborn of all creation, preeminent, image of the invisible God, and the One who holds all things together, points us to honor Jesus like none other. This is so appropriate, however, not only because of his majestic glory but even more so because of his grace and love. 

A missionary working in east Asia spoke of the many people there who do not know Jesus and are not giving him the honor he deserves. That phrase caught my attention. I want Jesus to be honored. He is my Savior and Lord. He is pure and good. My friend identified her place of missionary activity as east Asia because she is actually potentially in danger if the wrong people get wind of her work where she is. But her desire to honor Jesus has moved her to this. I hope that I can honor Jesus similarly wherever I serve him – not just in my sermons or blog posts, but in all I think, say, or do. He is surely worthy of it.

Meditate on and pray these psalms on this Lord’s Day. Pray for the war-ravaged people in Ukraine. Pray for the people of this nation. Pray for mothers and their children. Pray for those who voice opinions different from yours. Pray that God’s name will be praised, and people will turn to him.

Psalm 15

Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 45:6-7

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
    The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
    you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.

Psalm 75:1-7

We give thanks to you, O God;
    we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.

“At the set time that I appoint
    I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
    it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
    or speak with haughty neck.’”

For not from the east or from the west
    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment,
    putting down one and lifting up another.

Psalm 105:1-7

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
    children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.

Psalm 135:1-3

Praise the Lord!
Praise the name of the Lord,
    give praise, O servants of the Lord,
who stand in the house of the Lord,
    in the courts of the house of our God!
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
    sing to his name, for it is pleasant!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:1-14

Forest Trees at Boiling Pots Falls | Near Hilo, Hawaii | March 2022

My prayer life seems to grow and recede based on the stress and challenges real and imagined before me. When it’s a troubling time, I will spend the waking hours praying. Until recently I would pray the Lord’s Prayer. Again and again I would pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven…” I would also take note of the places where my mind would wander away from the specific petitions of that beautiful and deeply-meaningful prayer. I wonder what is going on in my life in relation to that petition, I would think. 

More recently I have learned two additional prayer strategies in those sleepless moments. My friend and seminary classmate Jeff Gibbs spoke of praying the Agnus Dei, “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us…and grant us peace.” A beautiful prayer, seeking God’s mercy and peace.

Yet another prayer is also edifying and comforting. Naming the things for which you are specifically thankful is a richly pacifying prayer discipline. I get to think of my wife, children, grandchildren, friends, and the many blessings from God. This reminds me of God’s goodness, expressed in past blessings, and points me in faith and hope for God’s continued goodness in my life. 

Here we have other specific things for which we must also pray. 

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:9-14

Praying for other believers to know God’s will, to have wisdom and understanding, and to live a life worthy of our Lord Jesus is an important prayer. We pray these things over those who have been saved, not in order that they may be saved. Once saved, however, the temptations and challenges to our faith do not magically stop. That’s why we must also pray the we who bear the name Jesus will bear fruit, increase in our knowledge of God, and endure in our walk of faith. 

God has delivered us. We have been redeemed. Our sins have been forgiven. From that foundation of God’s grace and salvation we pray, giving thanks to the Father for those who walk with us in the light of God’s love. 

David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:1-14

Boiling Pots Falls | Near Hilo, Hawaii | March 2022

I’m generally an optimistic person. To a fault sometimes. I see half-full cups, lights at the end of tunnels, and hope for happy days. Most days. But these days, not so much. Statistics tell us that the Christian Church in North America is following the path of the Church in Europe. It’s shrinking daily. Pastors are abandoning their callings. People are absent from worship more than ever before in my lifetime. The younger generations are progressively more disconnected from the church at best and at worst antagonistic to the Christian faith. It seems to me that we’re riding the back side of the wave of Christendom. 

It’s hard to be very optimistic in the face of these realities and feelings. 

Thank God for Africa! The largest and fastest growing Lutheran Church in the world is in Ethiopia. Ethiopia! The Lutheran Church in Tanzania – a country less than ½ the size of the US is larger than The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. There is no perfect church or completely faithful country anywhere, but there are certainly bright spots! 

My optimism is piqued when I think of these things and put that along side Paul’s words:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. – Colossians 1:3-6

The gospel is coming to people every day. More and more people are hearing. The number of the redeemed and saved is growing by the grace and mercy of God. 

Corrie ten Boom said it well: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.” Paul is urging us to look to God. He’s pointing us toward our heavenly hope. He’s reminding us that God’s plans are for blessing, good, and eternal joy. He invites us into that hope. 

That doesn’t mean we don’t mourn for the lost. It doesn’t mean we don’t seek to bring the message of Jesus to more and more people. Quite the contrary. We rejoice in God’s work in the lives of more and more people, and do whatever we can to help make the world come alive around us. His message of Good News enlivens that hope and sustains us in that effort.

David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:1-14

African Tulip Trees-II | Near Hilo, Hawaii | March 2022

The book, Leadership and Self Deception, offers very telling insights into how to become more self-aware by learning to see your faults more accurately, understanding other’s strengths and needs in a more generous light, and responding positively to the instinct within you to help other people as much as possible.

The premise is that truth has to do with acknowledging our sin and shortcomings. Certainly this is aligned with 1 John 1:8, “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” But as I read this passage (above), I begin to see a different facet of truth’s place in the life of a believer, and – more importantly – in the proclamation of the gospel.

If Jesus is the way, the truth [emphasis added], and the life – which most certainly he is –  then a failure to acknowledge our sin renders us bereft of Jesus. 

On top of that, Jesus himself says, that if we continue in his word we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. (John 8:31-32

Paul speaks of the gospel as the word of truth – equating the two in the verses above. I’m wondering how I might reimagine 1 John 1:8-9. Somehow an acknowledgement of my sin is key to Jesus’ presence in my life. Interesting. You might think the exact opposite. Sinless ones are those in whom Jesus lives we would suppose. People who have defeated sin are the ones who have Jesus in their hearts. 

To some extent such a view would be good news…if we are able to rid ourselves of this cancer. Problem is, I’ve not been able to do so. I stand with the likes of Martin Luther, Augustine of Hippo, Billy Graham, and St. Paul himself (“wretched man that I am”). And we have Jesus in our hearts. 

You might say, but how can evil (sin) exist where Jesus is? The better question is how does Jesus deal with sinners? He eats with them. He calls them to be Apostles. He forgives them. He heals them. He sends them. He loves them. 

This is the good news: Jesus Christ came to save sinners. I am one of them. And he is my Savior and Lord. That word needs to be spread to the whole world. The signs on our church marquees should read, “Sinners Welcome.” 

This is no excuse for sinning further. This is a call to praise God for his glorious grace, and live in that grace day by day.