LentBlog 2015, Day 31: The incarnational, reconciling, upside-down, way of Jesus.

Colossians 1:18-20 NRSV:

18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.


So much in these three verses. The profound incarnational statement of verse 19. The idea that in Christ all things, whether on earth or in heaven, are reconciled. (This of course means that Jesus’ goal isn’t just to save our disembodied souls or something… salvation is cosmic… everything gets to be redeemed. Take that, Gnosticism.)

Then the upside-down way God makes peace… not through power, superior strength, or show of force, but through the cross.

Worth thinking about, y’all.

Blessings,

Mark

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LentBlog 2015, Day 29: Paul’s Prayer… for Us.

Colossians 1:9-14, NRSV

For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s[d] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled[e] you[f] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


So, tonight this passage is hitting me in a way it and passages like it never have before. I feel no desire to do word studies or try to read the Greek here.

Just this:

As I read this just now, I tried to imagine Paul (or maybe one of our mentors, or one of our brothers and sisters in the church) saying them to me. And I find I need to hear every single word of this passage. It’s a blessing, really. Paul is praying some pretty profound things for the church in Colossae. Tonight, I feel like someone is praying them for Stefanie and I. And I gotta tell you, we need it.

And all of a sudden, the God who stands behind and previous to the scriptures speaks through them. And the Word (Jesus) is pretty much what I think I needed to hear tonight.

Thanks be to God.

Blessings,

Mark

LentBlog 2015, Day 28: To Comprehend the Grace of God

Colossians 1:3-8

In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant.[b] He is a faithful minister of Christ on your[c] behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.


It’s going to be short tonight– I’ve finished up my last session of the theology course I’ve been teaching, and I’m dead tired. What hits me about this thanksgiving section in Colossians is the phrase in verse 7: the gospel has been bearing fruit among them from the day they heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.

Short and sweet: I wonder if one of the big reasons the church is tending not to bear much fruit these days (though defining “fruit” NOT primarily along numerical lines is a good thing) is that we really aren’t truly comprehending what grace means. I wonder if we had a more mature idea of grace if we’d bear a lot more fruit…

Food for thought…

Blessings,

Mark

LentBlog 2015, Day 27: Peace, again…

Colossians 1:1-2, NRSV:

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters[a] in Christ in Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.


I ran out of Ephesians, so I’m starting Colossians tonight to continue through Lent. I figure I started in an epistle, why not stay with one?

As with my post about the first few verses of Ephesians, “grace and peace” jump out at me again with this passage. Only this time, specifically “peace” is working on me. The Teknia online Greek dictionary defines εἰρήνη as “peace, harmony, tranquility; safety, welfare, health; often with an emphasis on lack of strife or reconciliation in a relation, as when one has peace with God. Often used as a verbal and written greeting.”

Lack of strife.

Reconciliation in a relation.

We were once at war, but now we are at peace. With God… with each other… In Christ.

I think it’s way too easy to say we are at peace with God when we are at the same time in unresolved, open conflict with brothers and sisters in the church. I think it’s too easy to say, “sure, I have peace with God” when the life together of “God’s people” is anything but. Not saying that the church is never going to have conflicts or disagreements… it’s not going to be 100% sitting around the campfire singing Kum-Ba-Ya. But it seems like we could be reconciled with one another on a profoundly deep level and still have disagreements. It’s just that the peace among us runs deeper. Or at least it can, if Paul’s blessing applies to us.

Things to think about…

Blessings,

Mark