Remembering where we came from
“Don’t forget where you came from”
We’re all familiar with the intention of this phrase. Whenever someone moves on to something bigger than their previous circumstances, this piece of advice usually finds its way to them. We want the recipient to keep his or her new life in a certain perspective, to remember the lessons (and a few of the people) that brought them to this new phase in life.
Similarly, we can find this same advice scattered throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. However, instead of wanting us to pull specific lessons from our past to guide us through our future circumstances, each author wants his readers to find value in remembering who we were before God met with us.
Paul brings up the idea of remembering our lives before meeting Christ in his letter to the believers in Colossae. Although he had never personally met them, he knew their pre-Christ story – because we all start from the same place. We all start out separated from God. Speaking about Christ, Paul wrote:
For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself
by making peace through the blood of His cross –
whether things on earth or things in heaven.
And you were once alienated and hostile in mind because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him
Did you see where we were before God took action?
We were alienated. We were unable to participate in a relationship with the One who created us. The Greek word for alienated means to be shut out from one’s fellowship and intimacy – a perfect description of how separated we were from God.
We were estranged from God, but don’t think for one moment that we were the victim in the relationship. For not only were we alienated, but we were also hostile in mind. We were enemies toward God in our thoughts and feelings; we were angry with Him. We resisted His overtures. We argued. We sought to bring God down to our level and our definition of what a relationship with Him would look like. We accused Him of expecting too much, that His standard of perfection was unrealistic.
But was it God’s fault that the relationship was broken?
Were we justified in our hostile attitude?
Paul gives the reason for our alienation and our hostility – it was because of your evil actions. Our own rebellion and our rejection of God is what lead to our separation from the One who created us and gave us our purpose. We did this to ourselves, with no recourse to make amends.
It is while we were still in our rebellious, alienated, angry state that God chose to act. We are reconciled only because God made a way to do so. Keeping this mind reminds us of how we have been brought back into relationship and purpose because of God’s actions. Remembering where we came from helps us to stay both focused and thankful.