Colossians 1:13-14. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
For many Christians, Jesus is simply an add-on to their already in progress kingdom building. He’s a coping mechanism, or security blanket. Jesus is my co-pilot, my life coach, my therapist. Jesus’ teachings of kindness and love make my life better. Sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton call this version of Christianity Moral Therapeutic Deism (MTD) – God is good; he wants us to be good; he helps us be good; and if we are good we go to heaven. In MTD Jesus exists, not primarily as our savior, but as our example and therapist to guide us to a good life. He’s an add-on.
For the Christians in Colossae Jesus was becoming an add-on to their already existing kingdom of Jewish moralism. It’s clear from reading this letter that Paul is addressing a church that believes they must still follow and obey all kinds of ceremonial laws, and have all kinds of spiritual experiences (angelic visits) in order for them to be close to God. But they’ve forgotten what their salvation actually is. And they’ve forgotten who Jesus actually is, and what he has actually done.
Becoming a Christian is never meant to be an add-on to the life we are already living. Because union with Christ doesn’t leave us living in the same kingdom of self-righteousness through good deeds (“do not handle, taste, or touch” 2:21) that we were born into. It doesn’t give us a way to accomplish the self-improvement program we started, but just need a little psychological boost to see it through to the end. And it doesn’t give us the moral skills we need to be our better selves, or the principles we need to live our best lives now.
What Christ offers is so much more offensive.
What he offers is deliverance. Rescue. A new exodus.
Do you remember Exodus? The Hebrews were enslaved. They needed to be rescued from the domain of Pharaoh’s darkness and brought out into a whole new kingdom, a whole new life, a whole new existence as the servants of God, his covenant people. God didn’t leave his people in Egypt and simply give them a few tips on how to be nicer people, or better slaves. He didn’t add his Ten Commandments on to the existing Egyptian laws. He didn’t add Yahweh worship to the pantheon of deities they were already serving. He didn’t say “kill a lamb and put its blood on your doorposts so you can live a happier life.”
He said “Let’s get out of here!” He redeemed his people. He rescued them fully and completely from an evil kingdom. And he transferred them into a new kingdom where he was their king. Where he was literally living at the very center of their lives. Not as an add-on.
Christian, Jesus is our exodus. Our rescue. Our deliverance.
This is easy to miss unless you can see that you are living in, or running back to, the domain of darkness. When we make Jesus an add-on to our kingdom, when we fail to embrace our complete forgiveness by Christ’s blood, we have kept one foot in the domain of darkness. An evil kingdom that seeks to destroy us. We are running back to the bondage of law. Of performance. Of earning. Of enoughism (as in constantly asking “will I ever be enough?”).
We, as humanity, have created culture after culture of enslavement. In our societies, our churches, our homes, our own hearts. Enslavement to a pharaoh called Sin. The sin of always having to do more, try harder, appease God, earn back his favor. The sin of self-righteousness stirred up by law keeping. By making Jesus an add-on, rather than our king.
So how do you see your Christianity today? What is Jesus to you? Is he just another thing you will use today to feel better? Another thing to add to your daily “to-do” list? Today I will do my homework, wash the dishes, video chat with my friends, call my mother, finish that work project, and talk to Jesus. Is Jesus another “add-on” to you? Or is he the one you run to when you realize that all the other “add-ons” are letting you down (because they always will, won’t they?).
Christian you have been delivered from all of this by the powerful blood of Jesus. You have been set free from the domain of this darkness. How? How did Jesus deliver us? And how will he deliver us today? How will he keep us from running back to the Dark Kingdom?
A: The forgiveness of sins.
“To live is Christ” means there’s nothing left to earn. Nothing left to do. No performance left to give. No right to make wrong. No guilt to overcome. No history to delete. Nothing to add-on. No more “ands” to get done today. Just Jesus. Just his love and forgiveness. Only true deliverance.
In what ways have you made Jesus an add-on to your life?
You in Christ
How does your deliverance in Christ free you from earning your righteousness?
Christ in you
How might Jesus lead you out of the domain of darkness today?
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