I’ve mentioned in my blogs before that I seriously struggle with fear in my life. Fear is a major motivator. Most of what I do in my life can, in some way, be traced back to deep fears that overwhelm me, if I’m honest. It’s something I have to work on daily.
One of the massive fears in my life that I had established in my mind since I was a very young child was a fear of losing security in one way or another. The idea that I could lose my family (especially through some kind of accident or unforeseen issue), my income, my general way of living, people that I love or have set out to advocate for, the way people perceive me, and in many cases, my ego – it’s amazing how many of my behaviors can be motivated out of fear that I’m not as secure as I want to be.
If I am honest, assurance of security is a massive idol in my heart. It has developed into quite the distraction over the years. It’s very easy for me to take people and things that I love in the world and act as if they are ultimate – that God would take a back-seat to these things He’s blessed me with.
That is precisely why I need passages like Colossians 1:21-23 and why I’m so grateful that God has gifted me opportunities to see into His heart for me. In this passage, Paul writes, “Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds as expressed in your evil actions. But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him— if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.”
It’s easy to read our predispositions into that text. Some believe that this means a person can lose their salvation if they choose to walk away. Others read it and argue that, if a Christian doesn’t continue in their works throughout their lives, they are actually proving that they weren’t saved in the first place.
I don’t read those concerns into the text, though, and for a few reasons.
First, Paul writes to an audience that he has called “the saints in Christ at Colossae, who are faithful brothers and sisters” (v. 2). He speaks of the faith and love that they have actually been putting on display (v. 3). These are people who Paul says that God “has rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred [them] into the kingdom of the Son He loves” (v. 13). They have been redeemed (v. 14) and reconciled to God (v. 22). These are people who absolutely have the assurance, or security, that they need to feel confident in what they have with God.
Additionally, the passage says nothing about their performance of their works that they must show in order to be saved, but instead, it says that the faith and love they display (v. 3) are because of the hope they have in the Gospel. In other words, which came first: their behavior or their belief? In this passage, it’s clear that belief came first and resulted in their lives of faith and love.
All of this is in order that they (saved believers with perfect security) may be presented to God at the judgment seat of Christ (because only those who have received salvation will be there) where their works will be judged, not to give salvation, but to give rewards (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:10). In context, all of this talk is about how we are grown in relationship with God and that we will be presented as mature before Him when He is giving out rewards for a believer’s works.
Charlie Bing points out that, if this passage speaks about eternal salvation, we can never have assurance. If this were about my salvation, my gaze would be completely focused on my free will or on my works. However, if this passage is focused on the hope that God will keep His promises, our gaze is glued to the only thing that saves. It’s not my free will. It’s not my works. It’s my God who makes me secure in the love that He has for me.
So, what happens to my fear in the face of this news? It dissipates as my God’s power and goodness wash over me. I’ve had to escape the anxiety-ridden mentality I had always existed within and acclimate to the security He gives in His presence because He never has and never will leave me. His promises are secured. That’s where my hope is found.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff