Colossians 2:6-8 – So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
“Moving from this Christocentric principle, Paul then emphasizes the reality in which the believers already find themselves: they are filled in Christ, they have died and been raised with him, and they share in the victory over all competing moral and cosmic forces. This affirmation of the supremacy of Christ and of the finality of His salvific work is, therefore, not simply an abstract truth; it affects the very self-understanding of believers, who find their true identities in what Christ has done for us.” [David W. Pao, Colossians, Philemon, ECNT, p. 151]
In verse 8, being ‘taken captive’ can be understood as becoming a ‘victim of fraud.’ In this age of email scams, we feel there is no way we would fall for such lies and deception. Yet, when we live victory-less, hopeless, lifeless, we have been defrauded. Let’s “see to it” that we live in the victory of Christ alone.
Let’s pray that God alone would take us captive, that we would live in his cosmic victory. Worship with the song “This We Know” (Click here).
2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NIV) – All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
A “brand ambassador” is someone sent to communicate the priorities of their “brand” to anyone who will pay attention. Likewise, this verse tells us that we are ambassadors committed with a message of reconciliation to an unreconciled world, “Be reconciled to God!” The Bible is always clear that reconciliation is an act initiated by God, and presented as an invitation to anyone who desires to accept his terms of peace. This is so completely unexpected and unfathomable from a normal human perspective – what amazing Good News we carry! Through Jesus’ love displayed on the cross, our lives display the possibility of reconciliation with God – that people like us have been brought near to God through the work of Jesus on the cross.
Let’s pray according to God’s Word, that he would send us as ambassadors of his reconciling love, and close in singing, “Power to Redeem” (Click here).
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NIV) – So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
“When a new world is born, a new way of living goes with it… It is true when a couple have their first baby; a whole new chapter has opened in their lives, and nothing will be the same again. They have new responsibilities; everywhere they go, they see things with new eyes.” [NT Wright, Paul for Everyone: 2 Corinthians]
I understand what NT Wright means when he says that having a baby gives you “new eyes.” As our lives changed in a moment, so our perspectives changed on many things, whether consciously or unconsciously – beginning with our names changing to “mommy” and “daddy.”
After w2 on Sunday, I overheard someone greet someone else, “Hey there, New Creation!” Though silly, it was an “OF COURSE!” moment for me. This IS how we should see one another always, automatically – because this is the truth. Each of us is a new creation, and we together as a community are the new creation of God. God is at work creating among us, through the power of the Holy Spirit – in our families, in our ministries, on our campuses and in our churches.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV) – For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Christ’s love is the compelling power, the motivation, the engine that makes our Christian lives tick. The Greek word used for “compel” is also translated as “seized” or “controlled”. God demonstrated his love for us through Jesus’ death on the cross. When we believed in him, trusting Jesus with our life, we also participated in Jesus’ death. This means that God gave us a new life with a new mission: we no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us. The cross enables us to see ourselves – and God’s love for us – with supernatural clarity. When this is how we see ourselves and see God, Christ’s love becomes the compelling force in our lives, replacing fear, anxiety, doubt, insecurity, anger, bitterness, greed, and all other ways that used to motivate us.
Today, let’s see clearly, allowing God’s word to purify our hearts and minds, until Christ’s love begins to seize our hearts – compelling us upward to worship the Lord, and outward with his love. As we reflect on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, let’s close in celebration in thanksgiving and worship, singing “Your Cross Changes Everything”. (Click here).
Ephesians 2:12-13 (NIV) – Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
“Remarkably, a situation of enmity, both ‘horizontal’ (humans to humans) and ‘vertical’ (humans to God), has been resolved through the shedding of blood that is not the blood of the enemy. Shedding one’s own blood is not the normal Roman, or human, way of treating enemies—or of creating peace… The outcome is the glorious privilege of shared access to the triune God—in Christ, through the Spirit, to the Father.” [Michael Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord]
I love how Paul writes here: Remember… Do you remember a time when you were far away? Do you remember that time when you had no idea who God was? Do you remember that time when you were without the hope that you now have? But now in Christ Jesus, you have been brought near by his blood. This is biblical reconciliation. Note that in all passages about reconciliation, it is about God bringing us near to him. He rescued us as he initiated this process. We had no idea what was going on, until we saw Jesus. God reconciled us to himself.
Let’s sing and pray according to the song “Overcome” (Click here), trusting in our sure victory through the blood of Christ.
Romans 5:8, 10 (NIV) – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
“Many are confounded by the relationship Steve has with Mincaye. He says that a USA Today reporter commented that if he were in Steve’s shoes, he could ‘forgive Mincaye, maybe. But love him, that’s morbid.’ Steve says that their relationship doesn’t make sense unless you put God in the equation. Even though his dad’s death was painful, Steve says Mincaye would not have adopted him and he would not have been part of the mysterious, stoneage Waodani world.” [“Steve Saint: Legacy of the Martyrs” – cbn.com]
As we are reminded of the wonderful story of the gospel bearing fruit in Mincaye and the Waodani, we are reminded of the great love of God demonstrated in Jesus’ death on the cross. This is the legacy of reconciliation that is alive in each of us. Even though we are not in the same place and situation as Steve Saint and the Waodani, we are called to testify to God’s reconciling love no matter where we are.
Today, let’s reflect and pray to pursue God’s reconciling love in our lives afresh, as we see Steve Saint and Mincaye share their full testimony. (Click here).