What is broken in your life? I hate to start off this week’s blog posts on such a dark note, but so many of us have broken relationships, broken situations, and they really concern us, taking loads of emotional energy, time and sometimes money.
How do we heal what is broken? I think about our nation as an example of this. Such deep divides, mistrust, accusation. I’m encouraged to hear the new federal administration talk about needing to heal the nation, to restore dignity, and to work towards unity. It is needed. But how will it happen? Can it happen?
As we will see in Colossians 1:20-23, the simple answer is Yes. Healing can happen. But the way Paul describes it is probably very different from what politicians might suggest.
Let’s start with where we left off this past week, in Colossians 1 verse 20.
In verse 20 Paul concludes a poem about Jesus, a poem that might have been lyrics to a worship song that the early Christians sang together. Here is what Paul said: “And through Jesus, reconciling to himself all things, whether things on the earth or things in the heavens, making peace through his blood on the cross.”
Because of that, last week we talked about this amazing thing called reconciliation, that God would go to such extraordinary lengths to take what was broken and fix it. Something was broken! And it needed to be fixed. What was broken was the relationship between Creator and created. Look at verse 20, and notice how Paul describes this: God wants to reconcile all things to himself…things on earth or things in heaven.” He has everything in view. The entire universe needs to be reconciled to God.
We can often think about Jesus’ death and resurrection as intended for humans, or as effective for humans. And we aren’t wrong about that. But Paul has clearly gone further, hasn’t he? Paul says that the scope of what needs reconciliation is universal. It’s like one of those universal TV remotes or universal phone chargers. They are supposed to work for everything. Not that they actually do. But in the case of God’s reconciliation, it is actually universal.
What happened through Jesus’ death and resurrection was massive, expansive, and wonderful. I will admit that I don’t understand how the entire cosmos is being reconciled to God. I just agree with Paul that the reconciliation is happening, and it is for all. But frankly, I don’t believe it is important to understand exactly how God is reconciling all things to himself. Instead, what seems important is that God is doing it, and we are a part of that.
And that matters. God’s reconciliation matters to all people. Think about that. Reconciliation means that God wants to be in relationship with all people. This might be obvious, but I think it bears pointing out: when Paul says that God reconciles all things to himself, that goes for all the people in your life. For example, your neighbors. Think about them with me for a minute. Imagine their faces. Are they experiencing reconciliation with God? Are they in relationship with God? Do they even care? Do they have any idea that they need reconciliation with God?
Think about your co-workers. Their faces. Their names. How about them? Are they experiencing reconciliation with God? Or are they living in a state of brokenness with God?
What about your family members? Your friends?
If we believe what we say we believe, namely, that God wants everyone to know that he has accomplished an astounding, sacrificial, loving, gracious work of forgiveness so that all people can be reconciled to him, then the status of people’s relationship with God should be a major concern for us.
The problem is that some people don’t care. Some people feel like they have no need of reconciliation. Some people think there is no God. Some people think there is no problem. Scientists and statisticians who study this kind of thing, tell us that a growing number of people in the USA are not concerned about the concept of God or that God might be interested in them.
We Christians hear something like that and we intuitively know it is true, because we observe declining attendance at our churches’ worship services. And that can cause us to have a range of emotions from disgust and anger about our changing culture, to helplessness and despair. Rather than get disgruntled about how our country is changing, I would suggest we view our cultural reality by attempting to think how God might view people. Instead of being upset, consider that God loves all people deeply, and now there are more and more people with whom he wants to be reconciled.