My title today seems like a horrific headline torn from the front page of the newspaper. Is it about Al Quaeda building up a firm base in Kansas? Iran's success in putting together their first atomic bomb? Mexican cartels taking over illicit drug business across America? Well, yeah, it might be any one of these, but I found these three "E" words in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Church in Colossi, and the good news is that it is not the evil that is being established.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
Some people have the idea that Christians have gotten together and formed some kind of exclusive club. That we go to church and celebrate the fact that we are not like the "real sinners" out there. Perhaps they think we sit and dream of heaven being reserved only for we "good" folk and can't wait to look down from the balcony up there and watch those oh-so-evil reprobates suffering in hell.
Is this anything like the idea you might have of Christians? It breaks my heart to think so, because a Christian in fact, is simply another one of the "real sinners" that populate this planet. The only difference, which is both a slight variance and a huge distinction, is that a new Christian is simply a sinner confessed. As the verse above (which was written to believers) says, our sin did once separate us from God, but here and now, having accepted Christ's physical death as if it were the death we deserved, we live "free from accusation". We are now "established" in hope!
Of course we gather and rejoice in this very good news, and we worship Him who has given us so much hope, but we strive to share our joys with whomever we can; with those still entertaining "evil behavior", who might feel as we felt before--that we were God's "enemies".
Read the Bible carefully and you will find so many deliberate distinctions like the one here in the middle of the first sentence. Yes we are all alienated from God (because of our choices). That is given as a fact, and that's why we call this idea part of the Christian doctrine. But the rest of the verse is very telling. It suggests that if we are "enemies" of God it is only a one-sided war. Paul tells the Colossian believers that you "were enemies in your minds"!
Honesty requires us to admit that our behaviors are generally evil. Not that we go around torturing cats or stealing the life savings of the elderly, but that we all exercise an independent I-don't-need-God-because-I-am-my-own-god kind of pride, and we decide for ourselves what is good and bad. But this evil nature we bear has not made us enemies IN GOD'S MIND! He longs for each of us to simply repent and come back to Him. When Christ told His followers to "love your enemies", He was telling us to be like God, for He is ready, willing and (because of Christ) able, to forgive us and see us established again in His corner!
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