Good Friday and Easter have come and gone. The disciples, their world rocked, found normalcy in just fishing for fish for a night. Our own high-emotion worship services, pageants, and celebrations with family and family in Christ have passed. Even if our worlds were rocked, normalcy has its own gravity, and it is constant work to trace life back to salvation, to the crucified and risen Jesus.
But Colossians 1:10-23 can help us do that:
“… (verses 10-14) so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins…
… (verses 19-23) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 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.” (NIV)
The writer of the letter to the Colossians, Paul, mixes salvation metaphors about as fast as we can grasp any one of them. But each metaphor can serve as a way to remember the cross, and each is fitting depending on what you need. Here are six ways to keep bringing life back to the cross.
- (verse 12) “…the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance…”
This is for the moments when we feel we don’t belong to anyone, or perhaps anywhere. We’re out of place in our own life. Parents or friends have passed away. Friends have moved to far away places. There are many ways to end up carrying the loneliness of being those who remain. But salvation tells us the family we belong in and that our present has a place relative to our future. We are heirs with an inheritance and people with a name and identity under the cross. In Christ our brother, we belong to the Father.
- (verses 12 & 13) “… of the Kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness…”
Sometimes life will leave us feeling quite lost. We cannot see our way past a dark tangle of circumstances. We fail to overcome sin in ourselves or in others. We sense the pressure of evil. In such moments of not being able to see a right path forward, we must be turned again to salvation, and recognize that the place to be found when we feel lost is at the foot of the cross. In the light of Christ we will find His way in and through this dark world.
- (verse 14) “… redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
We have all longed for a new start. So often, though, that means cutting ourselves off from the past or from a conflict or from someone. That might be a necessary fresh beginning, but it’s not quite redemption, because redemption is a “buy-back.” It is to take something devalued and assign it value once again. To settle accounts. The cross of Christ, by assessing us as valuable enough for a buy-back, teaches us to seek similar redemption with others.
- (verse 20) “…by making peace through his blood…”
Anxiety, depression, and panic can be crippling not only in life, but in our relationship with God. We may struggle with: “Am I really saved?” or “God is probably punishing me, and I must have done something to deserve it.” or “But I heard this one preacher speak about this verse and now I just don’t know anymore!” Often, peace is not to be found in the fickle turmoil of our emotions, but then we must bend our hearts back to the cross, where we find that peace with God is as real as the warm, red, shed blood of Christ.
- (verses 21 & 22) “Once you were alienated… but now He has reconciled you…”
Most Christians are familiar with the idea of feeling distant from God, but alienation is further still. That describes not only distance, but an inability to cross it. No matter how much we may strive to get the Christian life perfect, or make our devotions consistent to produce all the spiritual fruit we want, or be a super-Christian like those faith celebrities, we can’t mind the gap between God and ourselves enough. But at the cross, He reconciled all the distance between sinners and Himself on His own terms, and in Christ we are near to Him.
- (verse 22) “… to present you holy in His sight…”
Sin has a way of sticking to us. Errors, failures, and chosen mistakes may well be in the past, but shame hangs on and stains our relationship with our self and with others. When it comes to God, we are fearfully conscious of measuring up neither to Him nor His expectations. But the cross of Christ purifies because Jesus was the sinless one. His holiness is given to us, and that grace covers over and scrubs out our every blemish.
Those are six ways to return to Calvary, and most of us will need them one and all for ourselves or others at some broken moment in life. When those times come, we must trace the paths of life back to the source of life, our Creator and Redeemer Jesus Christ. It’s a good habit in between Easters.