God’s Enemies, Reconciled and Steadfast.
Colossians 1: 21-23
There is a huge depth of meaning in our reading. It contains 3 steps for Christian living. 1) Once we were enemies of God. 2) Now we’ve been reconciled. 3) We must remain steadfast in our faith.
Paul using strong terms, reminded the Colossians that before Christ did his redeeming work ‘they were alienated from God and enemies in their minds. What applied to the Colossians applies to us. Many may find it hard to take that those who don’t know Christ as saviour are God’s enemies.
However, Mary Evans from the Ethiopian School of Theology wrote in 2012 that earlier generations were well aware of that fact. As an example, we can look at Jonathan Edwards, an 18th Century New England pastor who in July 1741 preached a sermon entitled ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God.’
There he boldly pointed out the desperate state of those outside of Christ and warned that they were destined for hell. Then he went on to say ‘But now Christ has opened the door of mercy wide and is calling and pleading with sinners to come to him.’ Jonathan pointed out how awful it was to be left behind. But many had recently entered and were now in a happy state and washed from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.
Step 2 is reconciliation. Reconciliation means doing away with enmity, the bridging over of a quarrel. After the end of the American civil war Abraham Lincoln was criticised for befriending his former enemies. He replied to his critic, asking him “Aren’t I destroying my enemies by making them my friends?” In fact, it is exactly what God has done for us and reconciled us, his former enemies to himself. So if we have a quarrel with someone we should follow his example and do all we can to be reconciled with them.
For us to be reconciled to God there is only one bridge, only one way. And the bridge Christ has built is more than adequate to take the weight of our sin. Satan would tell us otherwise. Which is why we need to stay steadfast in our faith.
Step 3 is staying steadfast. The Colossians and Galatians both came under fire from false teachers who tried to turn them away from faith in Christ and Christ alone. Paul knew that if they turned away from Christ they would lose all the blessing that they had received when through faith in Christ the Holy Spirit had entered their lives empowering them to live lives pleasing to God. So they needed to stay steadfast as we also need to do.
Jesus promised that “Whoever drinks of the water I shall give them will never thirst. The water I shall give them will become in them a fountain of water (continually) springing up to eternal life.”(John 4:14) Christians who remain steadfast will enjoy the ongoing refreshment the Holy Spirit gives.