It was Delia Smith, erstwhile ubiquitous TV chef and now Norwich City Football Club Director, who (in an apparent drunken stupour) tried to rally the assembled masses at Carrow Road with the question ‘who are ya?’
How would you have answered?
I guess it depends on how you think of yourself. What are you like? How would you describe yourself to someone else?
I ask because I came across a description of me this week that totally blew me away. No, Mum hadn’t been singing my praises on the internet again. And it had nothing to do with rave reviews from the Oxford Brookes Christmas Carol Concert. It came from God. And I wasn’t expecting it.
I was studying Colossians 3 with one of the lads from church. We’ve been working through the letter in recent months. We’re slow learners and so we’ve only got as far as Colossian 3. But God never fails to teach us something brilliant even early in the morning. We were in the last part of the chapter. And there it was. God’s description. Of me. And it was mentioned almost in passing. But it comes in (12).
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved (NIV 1984).
It’s a statement of fact. It’s true for every one of us who is united by faith to Christ. If our old sinful self died when Christ died and our new raised self was raised when Christ was raised, then this is true of us. So what are we?
In the first place, we’re chosen. God selected us. Not because of our intrinsic worth. There was nothing in us that would commend us to him. Every aspect of our being (thoughts, desires and activity) was stained with the stench of sin (to mix my metaphors). Even our so-called ‘good’ deeds were spoiled by the sinful motives that drove them. No, God didn’t choose us because he thought heaven really needed someone like us. He chose us because of his mercy. He didn’t have to. He could have refuse to choose us and that would’ve been understandable and just. But he chose us. We’re his. We belong to God. And that makes us very precious. And indescribably privileged.
Secondly, we’re holy. God thinks of us as though we share his moral perfection. We don’t. And yet we do. Not in and of ourselves. We’re sinners by nature. But in Christ, we’re reckoned righteous through faith. It’s not that God is stupid and we’ve pulled the wool over his eyes. It’s that he’s gracious and has covered us with the righteousness of Christ. Jesus Christ’s searing white hot moral purity is ours. Always. Even when we sin.
Thirdly, we’re loved. God is passionate about us. He loves us like we’re family. And that’s what we are. In Christ, God has adopted us. And he loves us every bit as much as his own son. Is that not remarkable? We may not know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of selfless loving devotion. But even its’ absence gives us a hint of what we’re missing out on. God is for us.
I’m not sure we nailed the main point of Colossians 3. But it didn’t seem to matter. We were off thinking about who I’ve become in Christ. I figure the rest will follow.