May 08

In Other Words: A Sermon in a Sentence

 “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 1:21-23a (NIV)

One of the things that sticks in my brain from years of studying the Bible, not only for my own personal spiritual growth but also in an academic environment, is how important all of those contingencies and prepositions are   ;o)  Now I am not one who spent a great deal of time, energy, or brain power on understanding sentence structure when I was younger, but once I began studying languages other than English, it became immediately obvious that if I was ever going to have a clue (and actually pass some of those college classes!), I would need to get real comfortable with linguistic terminology and function.

The bigger issue, when it comes to reading a verse of Scripture, is how important all of those “little” words are to our understanding the meaning. I will also say quite emphatically, however, that I have no interest in becoming a professional theologian even though I invested many years of my life learning about such things. My personality is simply not competitive enough to engage in endless discourses and arguments about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (or other such intricate theological disputes).

One day, several years ago, when I was contemplating the next step in my academic journey, I was approached by a male seminary professor of a fairly large midwest school. It is always a good thing these days to have a few female students in a traditionally all-male bastion of academia, so he stopped me in the library one day and asked me if I had considered going to seminary after I graduated. Well, actually I had thought about it but it would have required me shifting my historical focus at least three centuries forward, and since I was really interested in what I was already studying, I didn’t want to take that intellectual leap.

We chatted for a few minutes, and I could tell that he had a sense of humor (don’t they all?) so I said with as much gravitas as this little house wife could gather up, “You know, I’ve never met a seminarian that I like, so I’m not thinking I want to be one.” For a minute he seemed taken aback, but then he realized that I was (kind of) joking around with him, and he laughted at my little Christian social commentary. So, in the end, I moved on to a place where I could study the history of theology, church history, and all those dead languages where no one cared, or even noticed, that I am a girl.

What does that have to do with the quote today? Just a bit of backdrop to how I came to appreciate contingencies, subjunctives, and prepositions in the English language . . . . because I had to learn them in Greek and Latin in self-defense. So, when I read a Scripture verse that starts out: “But now . . . . . ” I am reminded that something happened. And that something made a difference. Remember, I am not a professional theologial, so I really am not interested in debating the finer (sharp ended) points here, but for my personal journey, this tells me that things are different now in my life BECAUSE He has reconciled me through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Once upon a time I was alienated from God and an enemy of His because of my “evil behavior.” That’s just life, even if you and I are domestic goddesses who roam the wild woods of dirty dishes, muddy floors, overflowing laundry baskets, runny noses, screaming babies, and skinned knees, and have never done anything more adventurous than ride the ferris wheel at the county fair. We’ve all messed up and we are all enemies and alienated from God. “But now . . . . . ” we have been reconciled to God. That is an incredible statement!

And then in just this short quote from Colossians, we also learn that this is a fact; a reality, but it still is our responsibility to get a clue and “continue” in our faith, as well as make a commitment that we will not be moved, or shaken in our walk with Him. Perfect! A sermon in a sentence  ;o)  Our past condition, our present reality, our future responsibility, and our eternal relationship with Him. There’s a lot wrapped up in that “But now . . . . . ”  How is that working in your life today?

We would love to have you join us for this week’s “In Other Words.” All you have to do is visit Miriam Pauline at her blog, MiPa’s Monologue, and leave a link to your post on this quote. Then you can visit the other participants and read their thoughts this week. Hope to see you there! Have a great Tuesday, Nina


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  1. Loni

    So loved reading your words today . . . love what you said to the seminarian! LOL! I would have loved to been a bug on the wall, seeing his expression! 🙂

    Enjoying the domestic goddess life with you (well sometimes, huh – life and it’s trials – ugggggg!!!)

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    And PLEASE PLEASE join in the necklace giveaway on my blog! I am sure you’d love it! 🙂 ~ Blessings, Loni

  2. Miriam Pauline

    Great post! Love the analogy. (although I do hope I would be a former seminarian you would like).

    Thanks for joining the conversation. I’ve added your link over at my site.

  3. Karen Gillett

    Very good, that’s quite the background. It did lead to a good conclusion as you looked at the structure of the sentence. Definitely a sermon in a sentence. A sermon that covers our past, present, and future responsibilities. Thanks so much for sharing today it was great.

  4. Cecilia Marie Pulliam

    Great thoughts, and suggestions, Nina. I was intrigued by your story and the more in depth look at Scripture. Thank you for sharing.

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