When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:13-15
I saw Toy Story 3 again with my sons yesterday. I am a little embarrassed that I would get a little misty eyed at an animated feature. For kids, it’s all about the action. For parents, it’s a Cats in the Cradle sort of thing. Sniff.
The previews before the movie were interesting. It’s nothing new, but there seem to be more than the usual number of movies with ordinary people receiving extraordinary powers. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice starring Nicholas Cage tells of an ordinary college student who is selected to learn the skills of plasma balls and other tricks to ward off the evil forces of the world. The Last Airbender again shows how people can harness the power of the elements of the universe. Part of me understands the appeal. I certainly could have used a few plasma balls in junior high.
I teach my sons that Jesus has the greatest power in the universe. More than an avatar or airbender, more than a sorcerer, more than evil Dr. Porkchop.
Paul shows Jesus’ power in this passage. From our vantage point, we might assume that the powerful forces are the “powers and authorities,” they are certainly more powerful than we are. Jesus has defeated them. We have no reason to fear. But, this isn’t the greatest demonstration of Jesus’ power.
Paul talks about the power of the law. If we believe that by our own effort we can please God, then legalism is probably a more powerful force than the “powers and authorities.” But legalism is a heavy burden that most either give up on or just carefully disguise their vices. No one can live up to God’s standard. But, Jesus is greater than the power of legalism.
The greatest demonstration of Jesus’ power is this: “He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2:13). Unconditionally. With no strings attached. We are forgiven. Not only does He not hold our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5:19), He remembers them no more (Psalm 103:12).
But, here’s the interesting thing: what was nailed to the cross? Well, certainly Jesus was nailed to the cross and with Him our sins. But, Paul says that the written code, the regulations, the law, the rules were nailed to the cross. And, from my understanding, nothing ever came off of the cross alive.
The rules are dead. They no longer have power over us. That’s great news. We’re free.
But, to some a life without rules is a life without certainty. Have you ever worked for someone and you were never sure of what was expected of you? Things would be much easier if it was all written down, if it was all spelled out. Then, you would know what you were responsible for.
Rules are safe. Freedom is risky. The only way to be assured that we are in the right place with God is to remain in constant contact with Him. But, it’s only when we fully surrender ourselves to God that we find we are truly free.
What rules are you tempted to keep? Why? How might the freedom of God’s grace threaten you? How does it exhilarate you?
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