We Christians tend to be pretty confident we are going to heaven when we die. Should we be so assured?
In the previous post, we saw in Colossians 1:10 that God wants to be reconciled with all people. Usually Christians think of themselves as already reconciled to God, and other people as the ones who need to be reconciled with God. Perhaps it is not just “other people,” as if reconciliation does not relate to us.
Remember that in the letter to the Colossians, Paul is writing to a group of Christians. Presumably, and I think very likely, what he is writing here they had already heard before. Especially if it was the words to a song they sang, as it seems verses 15-20 were an early Christian worship song.
It would be a lot like when a friend texts you a link to a worship song on YouTube, and they say, “This song is amazing, and I hope it will encourage you today.” (By the way, sending those kinds of text messages or emails can actually be really encouraging! That’s a great way to connect during a pandemic. You can have a ministry of encouragement by text!)
When you receive the text, you might know the song right away, or you might be like me, probably not recognizing the song by the title, but you click on the link and you realize, “Oh yeah…I know that one!” It is a great worship song that you love and you already know the words to because you’ve heard it and sung it many times. So when your friend sent you the text message, they weren’t telling you anything new. They were simply reminding you of what you already knew. But it was still encouraging. We can really encourage people, not only with new truth, but with old truth, because we often need to be reminded of the old truth.
That’s what Paul is doing here, reminding the Christians of what they previously heard. Take a look at verses 21-22 where he reminds them of the old truth: “And once you were strangers and enemies [of God] in your minds as shown by your works of evil. But now through his death in his physical body you have been reconciled.” At the beginning of verse 21, Paul reminds the people of what they had already heard, the fact that they were strangers or enemies of God. That applies to all people, all times, everywhere. That is what genuine Christians once were. That is what people still are if they are not yet reconciled to God; they are strangers or enemies of God.
When I get to a passage like this, I will admit to you that I feel an internal hesitation. Let me explain. Should I assume that every person who reads these posts on my blog site is truly reconciled with God? I probably ought to at least keep open the possibility that some people might still be in a position like Paul describes in verse 21, strangers and enemies of God. I don’t believe it would be right for me to assume that everyone who reads these posts is already a genuine Christian, having experienced reconciliation with God.
This is why, even though it can feel painful to talk about it, and people have pointed out to me in the past that it comes across negatively, I feel compelled out of love for all of you reading this post, to bring up what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23. There he envisions people that believe they are shoo-ins to get into God’s Kingdom. They think they are reconciled to God. And they have proof! They are doing all sorts of seemingly godly kinds of things, including exorcising demons and performing miracles in Jesus’ name. I can see why they are so confident that they are genuine Christians. If anyone seems to have the golden ticket for heaven, it sure seems like they do.
This is where it gets negative. Jesus turns to them and says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” He even calls them evildoers. So think about this with me. People who are convinced they are Christians, people who have what seems to be strong, incontrovertible evidence to prove they are real Christians, those people are not actually Christians. Jesus says there is something else that is needed. The people that believe they are Christians turn out to be strangers or enemies of God. That freaks me out.
What do we do about this? Check back in to the next post.