on alienation: Colossians 1

img_6145

read Colossians 1. The alienation of man is a persistent theme of modern culture. Man is presented as alienated from others, nature and himself. There is a flinty realism in our worldview. It resists pat or sentimental solutions. Far from condemning this stark view, the Bible affirms it–but goes a step further. Paul specifically says in the first chapter of Colossians that we are “alienated and enemies.” But our biggest problem, from which our other alienations stem, is our alienation from God. In pointing out the true source of our isolation and estrangement, the Bible points the way to the solution: Jesus offers a costly, thorny way in to reconciliation and deep unity not just with God but with all of creation.

Long before it became trendy to discuss alienation, the Bible offered an even flintier realism. Two thousand years ago, Paul wrote that humans are subject to an “alienation” so extreme that we are under the “power of darkness.” The Bible claims we couldn’t break free of it by ourselves.

Instead, Jesus’ blood accomplished what we couldn’t. Paul here writes that Jesus “reconciled” us to God in the body of his flesh through death. He writes that Jesus “translated us” into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. Paul says that in Jesus “all things are held together.” Jesus reconciled “all things to himself.” He made peace through the blood of the cross.

What does this mean? Paul is explaining how in a very fundamental sense we are knit together in the actual body of Jesus. Or, as Paul puts it “the mystery which has been hidden for ages and generations. But now it has been revealed to his saints…which is Christ in you.” We are one in Christ. United with Christ, who was perfect, means that we, too, are presented to God as “holy and without defect and blameless before him.” We are seen as “perfect in Christ Jesus.” In other words, salvation means that Jesus gives us his union with God. This union extends from God to others. All who believe become “our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

So when we feel alienated, we can use it as a gift, as truth is always a gift. We can admit that without God, we sit in darkness. By looking to the cross, we can be translated to the kingdom of light, where we are united with God and one with others. Knowing this, remembering this, and accepting this will cause us to pray for others, knit together in the heart, soul and mind of our Savior.

posted by Caroline Coleman on November 12, 2016 (photo is of sunset in Locust Valley)