Summary: God's love for us compels us to evangelize, and we are able to proclaim God’s salvation because we ourselves have received it
When designing a building, I typically don’t work alone. Although I could produce all of the necessary documents myself, I couldn’t work on very many projects and would quickly be spread thin. So I chose people to do certain tasks according to their strengths or an area in which they need to be trained up. I teach as necessary and I make sure that the person has all the tools needed to succeed. In our reading from Colossians, Paul talks to us about God’s management plan. The Lord requires a holy people, and He has selected us for the task. God has chosen us and equipped us to lead holy lives, bearing with each other and forgiving one another, as He has done for us.
v.12a “Therefore, as God’s chose people…”
Paul tells us that we are God’s elect. We are God’s precious and treasured possession, a people belonging to Him (cf. 1 Pe. 2:9). We are God’s chosen people. He does not choose us as a man chooses. As God told Samuel when he was inspecting the sons of Jesse, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sa. 16:7). And Moses told Israel, “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers…” (Dt. 7:7).
It is comforting that God did not choose me because I was good enough, not even better than some. We don’t have to be good enough because, even trying our best, we simply can’t. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4). God determined that He would love us while we were still separated from Him. His love for us was so great that He didn’t wait for us to come to Him, but He came to us first.
And God’s love isn’t just for you and for me and whoever else has been baptized. God loves all men. “He is patient with [us], not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pe. 3:9). How awesome is the calling to be a part of God’s chosen, holy people!
v.12b “…holy and dearly loved…”
The Hebrew for “holy” comes from the word meaning “to cut or separate.” Holiness is being cut off from what is unclean. Holiness is being separated from what is not pure. Holiness does not permit even a smidgen of taint. But it’s not just negative. Holiness isn’t as much “separation from,” it’s more about “separation unto.” It’s a setting apart of something for a special purpose. We say that God is Holy: it’s one of His characteristics. And this means that God separates Himself from all that is not good and pure and right—from all that is not of Him—and that He sets Himself apart for all that is good and pure and right—for all that is of Him.
Holiness is like that for us as well. We are called to be separated. Jesus says, “You do not belong to the world, but I have chose you out of the world” (Jn. 15:19). We are called to live in a manner unlike the world, on a different level. Peter writes, “For you have spent enough time doing what pagans choose to do… They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you” (1 Pe 4:4). The world doesn’t get it. The world is holy unto another master: the world lives for the flesh.
The life that we live, we live for Christ. We are not called to drift off in la-la land; God has given us a mission, for which we have been set apart. Jesus continues, “As you [Father] sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (Jn.17:18). Our holiness places us squarely outside the world, but the love of God draws us back into the world to proclaim His salvation.
And we are able to proclaim God’s salvation because we ourselves have received it. I can speak well of God as Father, because I have an earthly father who loves me and has taught me by example what true fatherhood looks like. But have you ever talked to someone who didn’t have a father, or whose father was abusive? It’s difficult for them to accept God as Father until those wounds are healed. But when they are healed and restored, the way that person raves about their heavenly Father and how much He means to them and loves them is moving.