SUMMER PODCAST REBOOT – this episode was originally published in February 2020.
Welcome to Friday’s Podcast. Thank you for listening this week – next week Mick, our Team Leader will continue our series throughout Colossians.
Today our reading is Colossians 1: 21-23. Today we’ll focus on verse 22:
‘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…’
I’ve said this before, but one of the reasons my Dad came to faith is the witness of a fellow apprentice who was a Christian. At the age of 75 my Dad still remembers this guy. Why? He was different. E.g. He didn’t swear – this was in 1960 – when my Dad started his apprenticeship. He didn’t drink to excess. Even though he was ribbed for his faith – he didn’t react. He was different. It made an impact.
Relevance connects but it’s our difference that impacts.
When we’re around other people – it’s easy to conform. I’m genuinely surprised by how many Christians swear these days. Personally I think dropping the ‘F-bomb’ is pretty foul mouthed and it’s something Paul addresses in his letters (not the F bomb exactly) but you know what I mean. That’s one tiny example.
As the old adage goes: we are called to be in the world but not of the world. You see it’s easy to acquiesce to the culture around us. But conversely it’s hugely tempting to withdraw from culture; not hang out with people who are different and just wag our disapproving finger at people. That’s not helpful either.
So, genuinely – how do we remain in the world but not of the world?
Paul’s answer – to some degree – is to recognise that in Jesus we have been ‘made right with God’ and presented ‘holy in his sight’.
Some people define holiness as ‘being set apart’ – a life lived devoted to God. The point Paul is making in today’s short passage is that conversion to Christianity isn’t a one time thing. It’s not a moment – it’s an on-going process. The word often used is sanctification. To live a life of holiness – and to quote, Sandy Millar (again) the former vicar of HTB – Holiness is a choice we make. It’s God who makes us holy – through Jesus – but it’s our choice as to whether to submit to the Spirit of God who wants to make us more Christ like.
Paul, throughout the first chapter of Colossians, is at pains to spell out who we are in Christ. What our real and true identity really is. When we’re under extreme pressure – as the Colossians are – specifically from the culture around them which doesn’t share their values, doesn’t understand their beliefs, and celebrates things in opposition to they we stand for – if we live from a place of fear – in the face of such opposition we can acquiesce or capitulate. I think this is a very real challenge for the church today. The things we stand for – culture doesn’t. It’s not about arguing or fighting for our rights as Christians – it’s about a deeper awareness of where the belief systems around us are infiltrating what we believe.
I read something recently that has stayed with me. In 1874 the Rector of St Aldate’s Church in Oxford (Canon Christopher) held a conference titled ‘the promotion of scriptural holiness’. What really struck me was that at the time the nation was going through serious changes – culturally & economically. It’s said this conference was so significant – 1500 people gathered, the following year in Brighton another conference on holiness attracted 8000 people and revivals in Wales, East Africa and the Keswick Convention all started when some people desired passionately to live a holy life. The Lord used it powerfully.
Whenever we’re tempted to think “how can we make a difference?” Remember it’s our relevance that connects but it’s our difference that impacts. A holy life makes an impact.
Father may we walk in greater holiness this day! Amen.
BIBLE READING: Colossians 1:21-23
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. 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.