"Peace With God"
In the past couple of years, political discourse has deteriorated into hateful rhetoric, and our country feels as divided as I can remember. Most people I speak to about this issue acknowledge there must be a better way forward. We long to be reconciled to one another, that we might experience true and lasting peace with others. But given our current political climate, it seems that this is a longing that will never be fulfilled in this world.
Many people also feel as if they are in a perpetual state of conflict when it comes to their relationships with God. Rather than experiencing the full measure of God’s forgiveness, they live with a low-level guilt and a sneaking suspicion that they can never measure up to God’s standards. How do they respond to this situation? They try harder to do good works that will somehow qualify them to experience the peace with God they long to know. However, such attempts always fall short, and the vicious cycle of guilt and works begins again.
Colossians 1:15–23 helps us see the error to this approach to a relationship with God. In these verses, Paul describes the work of salvation God has accomplished through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In verse 19, Paul writes that in Jesus, “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (ESV). That is, when Jesus came into the world and took on flesh, He did not cease to be divine. Instead, in the incarnation, Jesus was fully God and fully man, and this uniquely qualified Him to reconcile sinful man to a holy God. On this Christmas Day, we celebrate the truth that Jesus has reconciled us to Himself so that we can now be at peace with God.
Colossians 1:15-23 (ESV):
The Preeminence of Christ
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
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.