Over and over again
When I was deep in sin
You forgave me and took me in
You gave me peace within
Since that day my life has changed
And forever I’ll remain
Indebted to you for shedding your blood on Calvary
Just for me
- Kim Burrell, Over and Over, Again
Over and Over Again. Ever felt like that? Like God couldn’t possibly want to hear from you or love you because of something you did “over and over again.” It may not be the third or fourth time that the doubts creep in, but the tenth or twentieth.
Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions. But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him—if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it. (Colossians 1:21-23)
In Colossians 1:21-23, we are presented with a comprehensive statement about the effects of the Fall (Day 2) and how God, in Christ, accomplished the monumental task of reconciling us back to Himself. Being reconciled to God is the basis of all other reconciliation. Reconciliation with God is the ultimate expression of His truth, beauty, and goodness in the stories of the Bible.
The only way to grasp our problems, solutions, and purpose, is to understand and live out what it means to be reconciled to God. tweet
In Colossians 1:21, the Apostle Paul reminds the church at Colossae what their story was, and by extension, where all of our stories begin:
Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions.
Here, Paul highlights the three significant problems that prevent us from being reconciled with God: that we were alienated, hostile in our minds, and engaging in evil actions. We often focus on only one of these, but genuine reconciliation with God means addressing our alienation, intellectual hostility, and evil actions.
Reconciling Our Alienation:
alienation: a withdrawing or separation of a person or a person’s affections from an object or position of former attachment: estrangement. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
When someone is alienated, it means they are either excluded from a person, or they have chosen to withdraw from a person or community themselves. You can either be alienated by someone, or alienate yourself from someone. In our case, it was both. We separated ourselves from God, who also separated Himself from us as a consequence of sin.
But then God sent Jesus Christ, who, as Paul writes: reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him. When we accept God’s invitation for a relationship with Jesus, we are no longer alienated from Him. This truth is the lynchpin for our reconciliation with anyone else: God initiated and sacrificially died for us, even though we were the ones who were guilty. Our reconciliation with Him was not earned but freely given. We were the guilty ones, whom He pardoned. We are the sinful and spiritually bankrupt ones. But God deposited His righteousness into our account. As a result, we who were poor are now rich! And all of this was initiated by God. Yet we still alienate God from ourselves. We withhold our affection and maintain our estrangement over and over again. How?
We alienate God from us when we love the ways of this world and our ways, more than God. We alienate ourselves from Him when we base our affections on the value system of this world, rather than His kingdom.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the
Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
Instead of alienating ourselves from God, we must detach ourselves from three pursuits described in 1 John as worldliness: (1) The lust of the flesh—the pursuit for anything that pleases the senses and is outside of God’s design. (2) The lust of the eyes—hunger and demand for anything outside of what God has provided and permitted. (3) he pride in our possessions—the satisfaction and identity we find in our status and accomplishments, instead of in our relationship with God. We will be alienated either from the love of God, or the love of these. Which are you alienated from?
Reconciling Our Hostile Minds.
Have you ever seen a glass bowl fall to the ground? It breaks into many tiny pieces. The bowl, which could could hold cereal, soups and ice cream quite well, would now only ruin them. The shards are all different sizes and shapes, and will take time and effort to be repaired. When our relationship with God became broken, our understanding of life from God’s perspective also fractured into many pieces. Now we create compartmentalized categories like sacred and secular, worship and work, mine and God’s. Our worldview was once complete—now it is shattered, and hostile to God.
To reconcile our minds is to intentionally reshape our way of thinking to reflect God’s thoughts. It means taking the various pieces of your life—relationships, career, finances—and actively aligning them with God’s purpose and plans. tweet
It’s a total transformation:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
Our God is patiently taking the time to repair our minds, but it requires our active participation and agreement.
Reconciling Our Evil Actions
Notice that Paul writes that the alienation and hostility “expressed itself in evil actions.” The evil actions are the fruit, not the root, of sin. Our affection for the world, and worldly ways of thinking come first, then our sin. To reconcile our relationship with God is to replace our evil actions with good.
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
In our Day 10 meditation, we explored Spiritual Breathing. Spiritual Breathing is the process of continually confessing (exhaling) our evil actions, and inviting the Holy Spirit (inhaling) into our lives to retake control. Because we are in the process of being repaired and restored, we still sin, but the process of reconciliation with God involves a progressive increase of doing good, and decrease of doing evil. However, it is not automatic. We must pursue it intentionally.
Reconciliation with God is a past, present, and future reality. Past: we can celebrate because Christ’s death on the cross paid the price we owed, and so we have peace with God. Present: our hearts and our lives being reconciled to God as we continue to pursue him. Future: one day all of creation will be reconciled to God, and on that day, the broken bowls of our lives will not only be made whole; they will be made better.
Which aspect of reconciling to God (alienation, hostility, or evil actions) have you progressed in the most? The Least?
In what ways is being reconciled to God the basis of reconciliation with others?
Meditate on the passage under the section you want to see the most growth in (Alienation – 1 John; Hostile mind – Romans 12:1-2: Evil actions – Romans 12:17-21). Ask God to help you experience greater reconciliation in this area.
Suggested Meditation: Running Back To You by Commissioned