Summary: #4 in series. This is about reconciliation, God with us and then us with others.
Colossians 1:19-23 – Give Peace a Chance
Today’s message is one of those I didn’t really want to preach. It’s not that it’s not true; the issue is that people often don’t want hear what is being said. It’s funny how people tell preachers to give them the Word, but when it comes, they don’t appreciate it being directed toward them.
A friend of mine, Roger, back on the Miramichi, would talk about people coming up to him after he preached from time to time, and would say, “Ow, wow, you really stepped on my toes today.” And Roger would say, “That’s too bad – I was aiming for your heart.” Today’s message is aiming for your heart. Let’s read Colossians 1:19-23.
This is a wonderful passage about what God has done for us through Jesus. It starts off by reminding us that Jesus is fully God, and it pleased God for Jesus to do mighty, powerful, God-thing for us, a thing only God could do. Jesus reconciled us with God. I’ll come back to that – reconciliation is our central thought today. But for now, what you need to know is that reconciliation is about restoring what was broken.
So Jesus fixed the relationship that God had with His creation. Sin – the deliberate act of doing what you want instead of what God wants – broke the original relationship that the Creator God had with His creation, you, me, and everything else in the universe. Sin broke the relationship, which is why we have things like pain, sorrow, loneliness, loss, earthquakes, natural disasters, volcanoes, traffic accidents, drownings, heart attacks, diseases, mosquitoes, and AIDS. It’s not that any one of us is to blame – it’s because we live in a sinful world.
And what Jesus did was like a promise, a guarantee, that things would someday be different. Someday all that would be gone, and we need to keep persevering in the faith, as v23 tells us, in order to believe that God really does love us, despite the hurt we see around us.
And it’s not just the sin around us that’s the problem – it’s the sin inside that is equally devastating. Sure, our personal sin has nothing to do with earthquakes or tsunamis, but it’s our own sin that separates families and manipulates co-workers and seeks love somewhere besides our spouses.
You and I each have enough potential to ruin the world around us, and that’s is what Jesus came to deal with. We too were enemies with God, alienated from Him, separated from Him, willing victims to our evil behaviours.
But we see that Jesus did something about it. He reconciled us – He cleared the slate, that list of sins that separated us from God – He forgave us – with the intention that He would continue to make us holy and free from accusation. Jesus did what all the good works in the world couldn’t do – He gave us a clean conscience. He forgave us. He set us free from having to do enough good works to balance out our bad deeds, to tip the scales, to earn the 51%, just enough to let us into heaven. No! He forgave us, period. And now, armed with clean hearts, we do what is right, not because we have to, but because we choose to, because we want to, because we are thankful to God for doing what He did.
And it’s in this spirit that we need to follow in His footprints. 1 Peter 2 says that “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us to “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” When it comes to love, when it comes to how we treat others, we are to follow Jesus’ example. That includes reconciliation.
After all, 2 Corinthians tells us this: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” That’s wonderful news: as believers, we are new, different, changed, and cleansed. That goes on to say: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
As believers, we have a divine purpose here on earth – to help others reach out to God. We have a ministry of reconciliation. This is true of us. This is what the Bible says of us. This is what God says we are to do, how to live. Reconciliation.