As promised, though perhaps I waited too long, here is a short reflection on Colossians 1:21-23,
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Does this describe you as a Christian? Can you point to a time where you were “alienated and hostile in mind”? Can you point to “evil deeds” you did? Are these things behind you? I’m not speaking of being perfect now but Paul definitely means that you have left your hostility toward God and your evil deeds are in the past. There should be a marked difference between now and who you “once were”.
Paul’s major point though, is that “you … He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death”. Who was in the flesh reconciling you? Jesus, who is God, reconciled you with God the Father. It was Jesus’ earthly work to take on a body like your body, live perfectly and die in your place.
And what was His purpose in all this? “In order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him”. That’s the only way it’s doing to happen, if Jesus presents you before the Father as holy (because Jesus lived a holy life) AND blameless (because Jesus live a blameless live) AND above reproach (because Jesus life a life above reproach).
And then comes the “if”. Jesus has reconciled us IF. Many Christians never bother to take this “if” seriously. But if someone says “I thought you were a Christian”. You know you’re not following this “if”. And what are the contents of the “if”? We must “continue in the faith”. And not in a haphazzard way. We need to be “stable and steadfast”. There’s no room for wavering. Cannot “shift from the hope of the gospel that you heard”. And what is that gospel? It is the one we heard at our conversion, the word of Christ. It is the one that accords with the purpose for which God has created things, just as creation proclaims it everywhere. And it is also that special insight we have of who God is, His ways in history and who we are, that Paul helps to disclose to us in the Bible.
So what does it mean to obey what God has told us in the Bible? That’s for next time.