Reading – Colossians 2:12-14
Ruins of Colossae, where a community of Christians was established and to whom Paul wrote a letter.
Just after the middle of this reading, Paul switches from using “you” to using “us.” This isn’t exactly groundbreaking news, but it does serve to highlight one of the important balances and paradoxes of Christianity, that of the individual and the group.
God is the pinnacle of this marvelous paradox, existing as one Individual in three Persons, the melding of unity and community, self and relationship.
In verse 14, Paul writes directly to the community at Colossae as “you,” explaining how, through their imitation of Christ’s death and resurrection, Christ has brought them to new and true life. Paul then describes how Jesus reconciled not only the Colossians but all believers and, in fact, all people to God through his life, death, and resurrection, enabling “us” to accept God, conform our wills to His, and receive forgiveness for our sins.
God focuses equally on the individual and the whole, the “you” and the “us.” Having initiated and guided the creation of the universe and its incredible array of matter, including the panoply of life on Earth and, in particular, the remarkable diversity of the human race, God rejoices in the unique nature held by each of us, affirming His love for us and His desire for us to be in communion with Him.
God would have entered into creation as the Word made Flesh had you been the only person and even (I believe) the only created thing in existence, just to love and understand you even more. And God listens to us as we individually pray to Him, talk with Him, ignore Him, hurt Him, and/or live in the life He gave us as though we truly were the sole person in existence. Not to put too fine a point on it, but God is God; thousands or millions or billions of people praying to him at once doesn’t pose a problem for the Being outside of time.
Here’s the mind-blowing part, though: God loves each and every person in the same limitless, unique, dynamic way, and He wants us to mirror that love in our relationships with each other. God desires us to be not only in communion with Him but also with all people and all of creation. That is why community, “us,” is so important to God and to Christianity (and really to religion in general).
We learn to love our neighbors by experiencing the love of God. We are the body of Christ, with you as the eye and you as the hand and so on. We are incredible, special, and beloved by ourselves, but we cannot live without each other or without God. Moreover, there is no “them” against “us.” We are all part of God’s creation and all His children, meant to work for the benefit and salvation of all, not just some our ourselves. “You” and “us” are both precious to God.
Please, Lord Jesus, may we honor the individual and cherish the community as you did on earth and do in heaven. Thank you. ~