Are you an enemy of God? Are you and God strangers? Neither of those? How are you and God doing?
How would your friends and family answer that question about you? About themselves and their relationship with God? Do people think of themselves as Paul put it in Colossians 1:21, that they are alienated from God, or strangers of God? What about enemies of God? Would they describe their relationship with God that way?
I think there might be a number of people who might say, “Yeah, God and I are not on speaking terms. I am definitely a stranger to God.” But even if they think they are distant from God, they almost certainly couldn’t imagine Jesus saying to them, as I mentioned in the previous post, “Away from me, I never knew you.” He’s a loving God, right? He would never say that. Or would he? Jesus actually says it right there in Matthew 7:21-23.
So while people might think they are distant from God, even strangers with God, how many would say they are “Enemy of God”? Sure, some would. But I think most people would say, “God and I are not close, but enemies? No, I have no beef with God.” In fact, some of you might say that too. There are definitely times when I myself feel distant from God.
I wouldn’t say, though, that God and I are strangers to one another. How about you? Evaluate your relationship with God. How would you describe it?
Paul says that at some point in time prior to writing the letter we call Colossians, the people in the church family there in the town of Colosse used to be enemies and strangers with God. I wonder if that was surprising to them. I wonder if they would have agreed with that. Enemies with God? Highly unlikely.
Yet enemies is what Paul says they were. Why? Because there was a brokenness between them and God. Paul said that the manner in which they thought in their minds, and the evil works they did were evidence of the brokenness, evidence that they were enemies of God.
The word Paul uses for “mind” is actually a reference to the entire inner life of a person, not just brain activity as we scientifically describe the “mind.” Paul is referring to the will, the intent, the desire, the emotion, the longing of humans. Because it is from those inner places that action flows, right? Paul says their entire being was in a position of separation from God, alienation from God, and thus they were enemies with God.
When I read his talk about their minds and deeds being evil, I wonder what exactly they were doing? And by the way, how did Paul know this? Well, Paul actually tells us if we peek ahead to chapter 3:5-9. Just skim that list, and you’ll see for yourself. Paul has lists like this in almost all his letters, and as archaeologists and historians confirm, there was a lot of evil behavior going on in the Roman Empire. Paul could have easily seen it when traveled around the Empire’s various cities and towns. That might sound familiar to those of us living in America in 2021, right? Have we ever seen any of those actions in our culture? Yeah. We even see some of them in our own lives, and in our churches. In a few months we’ll study that list in chapter 3, so for now suffice it to say that the people Paul is writing to were previously in a status of brokenness with God.
Therefore, just as Jesus’ death and resurrection was what was needed to reconcile all things, as we learned here, the broken relationship between God and humans also needed reconciliation. What is needed to heal a broken relationship is reconciliation.
Check back to the next post as we learn what Paul has to say about how we humans can be reconciled to God.