“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we had redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14).
“Praise God…I’m not what I used to be,” declared the excited old Christian man. What a beautiful, accurate, yet incomplete truth of the Christian transformation.
As a pastor for a while now and as a disciple of Jesus for a while longer, I get the sentiment of the statement. When a person is saved…when he truly realizes the scope of His depravity and the depths of Christ’s forgiveness, it is easy to give thanks that we are not the same wicked people we once were before Christ. This certainly does not imply that we have arrived…as if we have somehow achieved righteousness. In no way can a genuine understanding of the Christian life conclude that anyone we know has achieved righteousness. Even the most saintly senior adult grandmother (who no one would dare charge with a sin) has a heart so desperately wicked that even she cannot comprehend it!
Our nature is rebellious at its core and desperately resists the goodness of God, AND (not but) He rescued us from the domain of darkness…redeeming us through His Son Jesus.WE ARE NOT WHAT WE USED TO BE!
Beautiful and INCOMPLETE
If that were the story, it would be akin to being a murderer who is released from prison. Still a convicted murderer…just free to walk around town and live among a group of people who are afraid they are “next.” Our relationship with Christ is far more though as the verse I shared reminds us. We WERE rescued from the domain of darkness AND transferred to the Kingdom of Christ Jesus! This truth is theologically pregnant with meaning.
Our identity is not so much what we are NO LONGER…but in whose Kingdom we now reside. We were transferred to the Kingdom of Christ. This Kingdom has a King (obviously) and we are not Him (not always so obvious). We are not “freed” prisoners but are now Kingdom citizens! Our new lives are identified with who (and whose) we are rather than what we have done and been forgiven for.
Often I talk with believers who struggle with this. I STRUGGLE WITH THIS OCCASIONALLY! My mind will drift back to the rebellious, self-willed person who ruined his life. If I am not careful, I will linger there too long and lose sight of the truth that Christ found me in my desperation and delivered me into His Kingdom where I gained a new identity. I am not a former rebel…I am a redeemed citizen!
I wonder if today we need to be reminded that we are not struggling to be victorious over our rebellion. Surely we must strive to live up to the name of the Kingdom and its King…we must wage war against the propensity to continue in rebellion (including the latent rebellion of identifying with our past more than our present). We also should be confidently humbled by the fact that He rescued us in our rebellion and, knowing our struggle, He stamped our citizenship paper with a blood-red stamp that said “CITIZENSHIP GRANTED: KINGDOM OF CHRIST.”