Do you know, I think those might be two of my favourite words in the Bible. For me, those two words capture something wonderful, beautiful and essential about the Gospel that it’s easy to lose sight of the wonder of..
They also remind me of this card. It’s from one of the games that we used to love to play endlessly and noisily with the youth group we led in our twenties, back when our idea of a great way to spend a Wednesday evening was to fill our living room with teenagers and talk to them about Jesus. (Actually that still sounds like a pretty great way to spend an evening to me, but that’s another story)
The card means change direction. If anyone plays it, play stops and then goes back the other way, instantly and without question. It turns things around, reverses them – changes everything. And I love the picture because in it I see what Jesus came to the world (and to me) for: to turn things around, to reverse them and to change everything. You can just imagine what the ‘cardboard testimonies’ of people who met Jesus in the gospels would have been like:
“I was sick for years and years, but now I’m healed”
“My brother was dead, but now he’s alive”
“I was an outcast, but now I’m a treasured friend”
“I thought I knew everything, but now…”
So, back to my favourite words, so that you too can whisper them to yourself and feel their power pulsing in your veins.
They actually come from the first chapter of Colossians, and they tell you exactly what happened the moment that God looked at you and me, and through Jesus decided to play the ultimate change direction card onto our lives:
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
Colossians 1: 21-23
You were alienated, cut off, at a distance, separated, but now – you are brought near.
You were an enemy, but now – you are a friend of God.
You were a foreigner and an alien, but now – you are family.
You were stained, dirty, marked, grubby, but now – you are washed absolutely clean, without blemish, but more than that, you are Holy.
You were guilty, but now – you cannot be accused.
It’s an extraordinary card that God has played in your life. The ‘but now’. Costly, powerful and irrevocable… and yours to accept.
LIke many of you, I’ve known this is true for ages and ages and ages… But somehow I still struggle to confidently live in the reality of it. I still fall into thinking about myself as grubby and stained and failing, as I was before Jesus rescued me from the dominion of darkness, brought me into the light, hosed me down, gave me a new place to stand and new song to sing.
So, if you’re like me, and you need reminding – take five minutes now to remember it again… breathe it in… feel the glory and the power in those two little words: