Monday, September 27, 2010

The Morning After: Jesus-Centered Reconciliation

We are plodding our way through the book of Colossians in our ABF. The past two weeks, we spent our time dealing with the greatness of Jesus Christ. We looked at His greatness through who He is and what He has done. It was such a great study, very refreshing to my soul. There is nothing greater than to sit and study Jesus Christ!

Well, this week, we once again see the glories of the reconciliation that He offers and what He has accomplished. We spent the bulk of our time in Colossians 1:21-23, a study of Jesus-Centered Reconciliation.

As I studied this, I realized once again how much I need Jesus to reconcile me! In vs. 21, Paul tells my story (and the story of every person who ever lived). He says that we are alienated, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds. I am a sinner of nature, thoughts, and deeds. But when God created the world, it was not for that purpose. Mankind was created to be in a perfect relationship with God. Read Genesis 1-2 and you will notice that they were perfectly free and engaged with God. But Genesis 3 ruined everything for mankind.

If you know me, I am not much into modern day gospel presentation. I think they are often shallow and do not tell the entire picture. However, there is one picture that is often drawn to help people realize their separation from God because of sin. You know the picture, it is the cliff picture. This is actually a pretty good picture of what happens because of sin. We are separated from the One who made us. I was separated from Him.

I have heard Matt Chandler say that we are stuck in the cul-de-sac of stupidity (check out his sermon from 4.04.10 called "From Alienation to Reconciliation). He describes it as the pursuit of more of what does not satisfy in the hopes of satisfaction. This is me because of my alienation. I looked for happiness in all the wrong places. I was a living example of the book of Ecclesiastes. And I failed to find that satisfaction outside of Jesus. The problem those stuck in the cul-de-sac of stupidity is that they do not ever think they are looking in the wrong place, but they think they do not have enough of what already did not satisfy. They need more money, more friendships, more sex, more alcohol, more education, more laughter, more sports and so on. The real problem we know from the Scriptures is that we are alienated from God. This useless pursuit makes us mad at God (hostile in mind) and those thoughts come out in evil deeds.

What do I need? I need someone to come and rescue me and bring me into a relationship with God. That is what Jesus did in reconciliation. That picture is often shown with a cross as a bridge. I love that, this is why we need the gospel. We need it because we cannot do anything to bridge the gap that our sin has caused. We need Jesus to bridge the gap, and that is what happened on the cross. Paul says in vs. 22 that He reconciled us in his fleshly body through death. When Jesus was hanging on that cross, He was making it possible that my alienation, my hatred of God could be taken away. When the Father forsook the Son for those moments, it was so that my lust and my anger and my evil deeds could be changed. When the soldiers whipped, beat, mocked, spit,a nd ridiculed Jesus, He endured it so that He could take the hand that hated Him and put it with the hand of His eternal Father.

What I often do not like about that picture of the cross bridging the gap is that it is often told that Jesus made the bridge so we can walk across to God. That is not the biblical picture of the gospel. Jesus did not make it able so that I could walk across to God. He came across and took my hand and took me to the Father! What happened in the gospel is that I was once alienated, but now have been brought together with God. I was once hostile in mind, but now have been given peace of mind. I was once engaged in evil deeds, but now I should be producing good deeds.

This is how the gospel has changed my life. And you?

In vs. 21, Paul says that we prove that reconciliation has taken place when we find our stability in the faith of the gospel message. If I try to find my stability in my spouse and they do not act the way I want them to act, I could move one step away from the hope of the gospel. If I try to find my hope in a job and the economy tanks or I lose it or I cannot find one, I could move one step away from the gospel. If I try to find my stability in my kids and they do not become the athlete I want them to be or they disappoint me, I could move one step away from the gospel.

I hold onto the gospel as my stability because if I take one step and then another and another and another, I do not want to wake up one morning and ask myself "was this ever real? Did I really believe this? Has my life been a lie?" Look, we can be good fakers of reconciliation. We can play the game well. This is why I keep talking about the gospel. I need to remind myself that I cannot run even one step. I need to keep running towards Jesus, not away from Him.

To God Be The Glory!

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