21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 23 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.
Last time we examined how Christ is in everything preeminent. He is Lord of creation. He is Sovereign over the social order. And He is Head of the church. Verse 19 of Colossians 1 says God is pleased, “. . . through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
The Apostle Paul follows the description of Christ’s pre-eminence with a discussion on what it means for the church to be reconciled to God in Christ. Verse 21 presents the “before” picture. We—not just the Colossians—were once alienated from God. And we were happy with that, as we were even hostile toward Him. Such a heart resulted in doing evil deeds. Of course, the very idea of reconciliation means that all of this has changed.
But reconciliation does not bring us from hostility toward God merely to a neutral position. No. We are in the process of becoming holy to the point of blamelessness, above reproach.
Of course, some would highlight the next phrase, “if indeed you continue in the faith.” So the burden at least of maintaining this reconciliation does fall on us, doesn’t it? Not at all. Does it mean to be “stable and steadfast” that we are perfect and without sin? No. Consider first of all how we were reconciled: “in His body of flesh, by His death.” What human behavior can compare with that? What was gained by the death of the sinless God-man cannot be lost by frail creatures with feet of clay. But consider, too, precisely what it means to “continue in the faith.” Rather than indicating we must of our own strength live lives of sinless perfection, it means we must persevere in faith, believing that Christ’s atonement was sufficient to pay for all of our sins, past, present and future. We read, too, later in the verse, that the concern is not that we would lapse into sinful behavior, but that we would “shift from the hope of the gospel.” That gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins. To shift from that is to try to find salvation elsewhere, to abandon the faith altogether.
So as long as we have need of Him, we have hope. And as long as we hold on to that hope, we can expect to be presented before Him, “holy and blameless.”
Biblical reflection by Tom Hoffman