[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
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.