Usually, when we think about conflict we can only imagine one end to the struggle: there will be a winner and there will be a loser. Every war, every battle, every argument, every fight is not really over until one side is victorious and the other is defeated. If a clash results in a draw, then it is not truly over, and we tend to expect that the fight will be carried on, perhaps in some other form.
That is what makes the conflict between man and God so amazing.
The human race became a hoard of enemies to God when Adam ignored God’s decree and deliberately challenged His authority. Ever since, we have either ignored God by denying His existence or fought against Him by making our own rules. Our thinking and attitudes have been set against God throughout human history. We have not wanted Him and we certainly have not wanted His leadership. We have been at conflict with Him.
God’s way of resolving that conflict was beyond the imagination of Humanity.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him… -Colossians 1:21-22, (ESV)
We were all God’s enemies.
We “once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.” Our alienation, separation, and estrangement from Him were complete.
Like Adam, we pretended we did not know Him. We ignored Him or we denied His existence.
We devised clever fables about how we, and all we see around us, came into being by chance and time. We told ourselves and taught each other that God was unnecessary to explain our existence. In effect, we treated God as an idea rather than a Person, and an irrelevant one at that.
Some of us might have seen the glaring stupidity of those fables and so we did not continue to deny the existence of “a god.” But, even then, the true God was so disdainful to us that we rejected Him and instead invented our own versions of Him.
Some of us made up multiple, puny “gods.” Others made up a “God” who merely created everything, but had no authority or interest in overseeing “His” creation. Some of us made up a “God” who was an impersonal “Force.” Others of us made up a “God” who made no demands of us but who only wanted to please us, much like a cosmic butler. Still others made up a “God” who really wanted us to love him, and who thought so much of us that He would do anything to earn our love, much like a heavenly boyfriend. We showed our hatred for the true God by creating our own counterfeits.
Whether we ignored the true God altogether or preferred our own imaginary god to Him, our hostility to Him affected our lives.
Our actions became evil. We chose to do what we wanted rather than what He wanted. Rather than honoring our parents, as God commanded, we treated our them like inconvenient and embarrassing benefactors in our youth, and like inconvenient burdens upon our time and money later in life. Rather than highly esteeming marriage, as God commanded, we ridiculed it by engaging in all kinds of activities to satisfy our own desires before marriage, during marriage, and without marriage. Rather than prizing the truth, as God commanded, we littered our speech with lies and half-truths whenever it served our own ends. Rather than loving our neighbor, as God commanded, we looked upon the people around us with contempt, using them and exploiting them as we saw fit. Rather than being content with the things we had been given, as God commanded, we coveted more and turned our lives into a race to collect, amass and accumulate all the things that we wanted but did not have.
God ended our conflict with Him with reconciliation.
God chose not to destroy us as His enemies, but chose to bring us to Himself. We, the enemies, “he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death.”
Our conflict with God was ended by a death. As God’s enemies, we would have expected that God would demand the death and utter defeat of all of us who were in conflict with Him. Since He is God, He could have easily used His power to destroy and punish us. But instead, God did something amazing. He turned all that power to destroy against His own mortal body on the cross. He could have concluded the conflict with us in the only way that we could imagine, with our own deaths at His hand. Instead, He chose to end the conflict with us by causing His own death at the hands of His enemies. He made peace and brought His conflict with us to a final end in reconciliation rather than destruction.
God has changed us from hostile to holy
Not only did God choose to spare us as His enemies, but He also acted to change us so we would no longer be His enemies. He did this “in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.”
God made us holy. By His grace and the work of Christ, we are no longer set against God, as our alienated and hostile minds had made us. Instead, He has made us into people set apart for God, for that is what being holy means.
God made us blameless. By His grace, through the death of Christ, we are no longer seen by God as guilty, although that is what our evil actions had made us. Instead, He has made us into people who are guiltless and without blame before Him, since all our guilt was taken by Christ and died with Him.
God made us above reproach. By His grace, through the resurrection of Christ, there is no longer any charge that can be made against us. Instead, He has given us Christ as our advocate, pleading that every accusation that might be made against us, even from future sin, has already been pardoned.
Our conflict with God can not be ended by our victory over Him. Each of us must either be defeated enemies or reconciled to Him. He has done all that is required for reconciliation. Because of what Christ did on a little hill outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago, you may be reconciled to God. Every person who changes his attitude towards God (repents) and believes that Christ has taken all the punishment for sin and disobedience upon Himself is now reconciled to God. If you have done that, you are now holy, blameless, and above reproach before God.
If we are reconciled to God through Christ, we must regard ourselves as God regards us. We are no longer in conflict with Him. We are holy, blameless, and above reproach in His eyes. His enemy, the sin that still seeks to hold us, is now our enemy. Let us regard ourselves as He does, and glorify Him in the way we live.