Where would we be without the cross? Perhaps those of us raised in the Church do not fully appreciate the message of the cross and the cost of it. Perhaps we forget because the affect of it cannot be seen in us daily. Perhaps we never fully grew in awe of it because we never fully let go of the affects of a fallen world. It is amazing how a few verses can cause us to catch our breath and cause us to stand still.
Once you were alienated from God and you were enemies with him in your minds, which was shown by your evil actions. (Colossians 1:21)
This is who we were and yet are never far from returning to it. What Adam and Eve opened the door to has wrecked havoc on all of Yahweh's creation, and especially upon our minds. As a result of our fallen state, we tend to make ourselves the center of everything and refuse to give glory to anyone else. Even if we are forced to do it, it is usually because there is some benefit for us to do it. This selfishness sets us up to be a creature directly contrary to the nature of our Creator, setting ourselves up us the enemy instead of the worshiper of the one who gave us life.
Our rebellion is conceived in our minds, plagues our hearts and is revealed in our actions. We set ourselves up as our own gods, and still do. Other people only have worth as long as they have something to add to us and the moment we perceive they have nothing to offer, we cut them off. Lying, cheating, stealing, killing, along with self-determination are all rationalized when we consider our needs to be the most important. What a contrast to our Lord:
Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
And we can now because Jesus changed everything for us. No longer are we trapped, under the control of sin which had misshaped every aspect of what we were created to be:
But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death, to present you before God as a people who are holy, faultless, and without blame. (1:22)
Jesus did that. While we were still enemies of Yahweh, Jesus sacrificed himself so that we could be transferred from darkness into the Kingdom, as children of Yahweh. Get it through your head, there was no good in us, we had nothing to offer, no value, and yet he made a decision to love us. In that love he sent his Son to rescue us but we still have to decide to accept it, love him back and obey. Although often times we still see no value in ourselves compared to his holiness, the fact is Father now sees us as holy, faultless and without blame, because of Jesus' death on the cross. Live the biggest good life you can muster, it has no value; only Jesus can save. But there is something we have to do:
But you need to remain well established and rooted in faith and not shift away from the hope given in the good news that you heard. (1:23)
We have to work out our salvation every day. It takes effort to remain faithful to Jesus. It requires a conscience effort to deny the desires of our flesh and to choose Jesus' righteousness daily. If we know who he is and who we are in him, and remind ourselves every day, then our effort enables the Spirit to empower us to overcome the draw of sin. We don't even have to think about that very much, we just have to desire Jesus, and a growing intimacy with him. Love really does take care of the rest, because the action of love is obedience.
We are not perfect but we are being perfected. In Father's eyes we are perfect. When we mess up and sin, we confess it and by his grace it is gone. We can grow in confidence, learning to love him more deeply, knowing he is not looking to destroy us but to increase us.