Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation–if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Colossians 1:21-23 NIV)
What does that first sentence mean to you? It will mean something different to everyone depending on their conversion experience. It will mean nothing to someone who does not believe that God exists. This is our challenge. God is very real to me and Paul’s words encourage me to get to know God better every day.
If I’m honest, I have the same difficulty in getting to know God better that the unbeliever has. My behavior is a result of my desires. When my behavior is selfish and evil I am making a statement that my true desires are selfish and evil regardless of what I say they are. Paul says that people’s desires and the resulting behavior create an impassable gap between people and God. Start with yourself. How much of your struggle to become more Christ-like is related to desires and behaviors you don’t want to give up.
If we think of it this way, we’ll find it difficult if not impossible to change our behavior. Even the most disciplined person will fail if they attempt to behave in a way that isn’t consistent with their desires. However, there is hope for us and for the world. When our highest desire becomes getting to know God better, then our behavior will more and more become behavior that is consistent with who God is.
I think this is what the world needs to see. They need to see that God is real and that where God is the greatest desire life is different and better. There is no guarantee that people will regard the good news of the gospel as good news. They certainly won’t regard it as good news if our desires and our actions are no different than theirs.
For my grandchildren:
Decide to make God your first love.