Monthly Archives: February 2016

There’s Room in the Family for You

I’ve been reading through the Book of Colossians over the last few days, in preparation for a post I hope to write later this week sometime, and I stumbled onto something worth sharing.

Paul writes this letter to the church in the city of Colossae sometime in the early 60’s A.D. He’s heard about the rise of a system of belief that is luring these Christians away from the truth about who Jesus is, and by extension who they are, and so he writes to counter the influence of this system.

The post I have in mind to write has to do with Colossians 3, but what I stumbled onto is in Chapter 1. In Colossians 1:15-20, Paul writes of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 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. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

From these verses, it’s easy to get the sense that Jesus is, well, everything. He is above all, before all, at the centre of all, the first in all, and He is the one that keeps it all going. Think the President of the United States, just on a far larger scale and in a much more involved role. With that reality about Jesus in mind, take a look at the next section. In verses 21-23, Paul writes, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 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, 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.”

There are two things to note here. First of all, the word “if” here is a lousy choice to translate the sense of the original. “If,” in English, means you might or might not do something, and in this case carries the sense that whether or not you get to be reconciled depends on whether or not you continue in the faith. As we all screw up at least every now and then (meaning we can’t 100% guarantee we’ll continue in the faith all the time), that’s not a comforting thought. In the original Greek, however, Paul’s sense is more one of “since,” as in, “since indeed you continue in the faith….” And THAT is huge, because it means our reconciliation depends on something other than ourselves. As Paul told us earlier, this something else is “the blood of [Jesus’] cross.”

That little bit of linguistic analysis brings me to the next point. Whose cross, and whose blood, is it that makes peace for us? It’s the same Jesus we talked about earlier, the one who is over all, before all, and at the centre of it all. He is the one who paid for our forgiveness with His own blood, and if the Man who paid the price is so pre-eminent, so powerful, so…well, everything, then surely that peace is as well. If nothing is over the One who paid the price, then nothing can break that peace which was bought with that price. Our reconciliation to God is a done deal.

So what does this mean? Well, as a believer, if you’ve ever been at a point in your life (or maybe you’re in one now), where you think you’ve screwed up too much, or too often, that you can never come home to Him, the truth is you can. His blood pays for any sin, no matter how often you stumble and fail. And if you don’t know Him yet, there is hope for you, too. Look again at the first part of v. 21, “who once were alienated and hostile in mind.” These are the people Paul is writing to, and that’s where they were before. If you’re reading this, thinking no one loves you and that no one cares, think again. Jesus does. We’re all in that boat without the price He paid with His blood. We’re all alienated, like Paul says, and if there’s room in the family for us, then there’s room in the family for you. He paid that price for you to come home, too.

All you have to do is accept it, and you do that by telling Him, just as you would any other person, that you’re sorry for rejecting Him, that you accept that He paid that price in your place, and that you want Him in your life. It is a request that He ALWAYS answers, so why not try it?

The You who You Are Matters

This time last month, my wife and I had the chance to see one of our favourite Christian comedians perform in person. I’m not going to mention him by name specifically, which I hope will make sense here in a minute, but I will say that we’ve seen him before and he is hands down one of the funniest people I have ever seen. We went for our date night, expecting to relax and enjoy the show, and we weren’t disappointed. Thing is, the whole performance, including the church which served as the venue, felt like that just that. A show. And as we left, I couldn’t help but feel, well, disappointed.

Here’s why. As I found out later, the church serving as the venue has an $11 million sanctuary. We parked in a lot that features what must be, in summer, a very well maintained and well landscaped parking lot where the church parks their not one but four church buses (including a coach bus). The sanctuary itself was huge, and featured a sound system that would have outdone a small theatre. The whole thing served to make me feel insignificant and lost in the crowd, and if it made me feel that way, as a Christian coming to see a comedian perform, how it would make someone feel who was coming to church for the first time? Someone who’s lost and looking for answers? For connection? For love?

I should note here that it’s not just large churches that have left me feeling this way. I’ve had the same impression in small, country churches as well. As Christians we seem to excel at defending the establishment, such as it is. Whether it’s excluding a certain group of individuals, or prioritizing a program over the hearts of the people that program is meant to serve, or only looking to have people in our congregations who can actually pay to support our $11 million sanctuaries, we do a bang up job of overlooking the individual in the name of honouring Jesus.

The sad part is that when we do such a bang up job of overlooking the individuals around us, in reality we’re excelling at little more than missing the point entirely. Think of Zaccheus the tax collector in Luke 19. Jesus puts his whole day on hold just to have lunch with one man. And don’t forget the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus went out of his way just for a meeting with one woman. Finally, there’s the demon-possessed man in Luke 8. Here Jesus goes all the way across the Sea of Galilee to rescue (you might see a pattern beginning to form here) one man. Jesus valued individual people.

So what? Well, this leads me to two things. First of all, if you’ve ever found yourself in a church like the one I described above, and left feeling the way I did, I’d like to apologize. It’s not supposed to be that way. You matter. You really do. You, with all your quirks and eccentricities, matter to Jesus. Secondly, well, you matter to Jesus. He’s the one who made you, and He loves you for you. He doesn’t love you for the money you can bring to the church, or for how you being there can justify a particular program, but for who you are as an individual. He made you to be you, and that you matters.