Colossians 1:13-14 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
“Familiarity breeds contempt.” Over time we can become so familiar with something that we no longer appreciate what we have. It is good for us to go back, as Paul does here, and remember where we used to be.
God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness. The spiritual darkness in which we live before we come to faith is a witch’s brew of ignorance and evil. We lust for a freedom without love or responsibility. In it people insist on the right to murder their unborn children, to try out sexual partners like a person in a shoe store trying on shoes, to neglect their children and their families while they pursue what they think life is really all about: making money and getting promotions.
The darkness leads people to pursue “feel-good” or “do-it-yourself” religions. They go looking for God in stone crystals or the alignment of the stars, in their own feelings and ideas, or in what they consider their own “goodness.” If there is one thing it does not want me to see, it is this: That I do not just HAVE a problem. In my sin, I AM my own worst problem, and Jesus is the solution.
This darkness is not merely an alternative worldview, a set of more-or-less benign ideas about the meaning of life, then. It is a dominion, a dark power, a devious and dangerous force which controls its miserable victims. It holds them in its clutches and is always seeking to spread its deadly shadow over others. By our very nature its values, entertainments, delights, and promises appeal to you and me. We must constantly fight to beat back the dark shadow of its dominion. For following it our world has reaped violence and abuse of all kinds, incurable diseases, broken homes, divided families, and all the draining heartache that accompanies these things. In the end it brings the eternal wrath of God.
What makes God’s rescue from this dominion of darkness all the more amazing is that by nature you and I would have been happy to stay. It is not as if we were begging God to come and rescue us. But now that we are out, we can see why Jesus deserves first place in our lives. We can see the Kingdom of which he has now made us a part.
Paul promises, he “has brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…” The bold and beautiful difference between this kingdom and the dominion of darkness makes itself clear in the phrase, “the Son he loves.” There is never any mention of love between Satan and the demons in their dominion of darkness. Whatever binds them together, it is not love.
But love is the identifying mark of everything in our new home. The heavenly Father who loved us enough to rescue us loves his Son. The Son himself loves us far beyond emotions, feelings, and well-wishing. He is the one “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” The word redemption reminds us that Jesus’ paid an awful price to give us a place in his kingdom. He paid our admission, he purchased our place, by dying on the cross as our substitute. He secured the forgiveness, the pardon, that leads God to accept us as citizens in his own kingdom.
This, then, is our role, our place, in the kingdom of the Son God loves. It is not to be driven to service like a slave. It is not to be bribed or deceived like gullible constituents blindly following some smooth-talking politician. God has brought us here to be loved. Jesus rules us now by making us the objects of his love. The more familiar we become with that love, the more it moves us not to contempt, but to thankful living for the one who loved us, and gave himself for us.