Meditations in Colossians: 24. Qualified
Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Many years ago I took exams to qualify me as a certain sort of professional person. A number of years later I changed profession and went through a process that ended up in me being qualified as a further education teacher. Now my dictionary tells me that the word ‘qualified’ means “having met conditions or requirements set, having the necessary or desirable qualities.” To obtain my qualifications I had to study hard while at the same time getting some approved practical experience. I met the conditions or requirements set by the professional bodies so that at the end of the process they knew and I knew, and other people knew, that I had sufficient knowledge and experience to practice in certain areas of life. That’s how it works in the world.
When it comes to being a Christian it is different: God qualifies us! You don’t have to study for exams and you don’t have to have certain experiences. If you listen to some people as long as you go to church regularly (experiences) and continue to be a nice or good person (quality) and generally believe in God, that is enough to call yourself a Christian, but of course when you read the Bible you realise that that is completely wrong. None of those things count for anything! Let’s consider various aspects of this:
Who it is who does the Qualifying: The two most important things about this is what we have said already but really does need emphasizing: first, we cannot work to become a Christian and, second, it is God who qualifies us. But before we look at that more closely we perhaps should ask, qualified for what? Well Paul says in our verse above, “to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” so what do these various words mean?
The Inheritance to be received: ‘Saints’ are Christian believers and the ‘kingdom of light’ is simply God’s kingdom overseen by Jesus, that Paul will refer to again shortly. In this kingdom are a whole lot of blessings from God – forgiveness of sins, cleansings from past sins, freedom from the power of present Sin, adoption as sons, a God-given plan and purpose for our lives (the way we live them and what we are to achieve) here today and tomorrow, the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit to teach, guide, direct and equip us, and an eternity with God in heaven. That is the inheritance of Christians.
False Qualifications: Now Paul says God has ‘qualified’ us to share in all of this. It is reasonable to consider the various ways people come up with that they suggest is enough to qualify them to be called Christians. For some it is to have Christian parents. For others it is to be a churchgoer. For others it is to work to be good, to join in community affairs and to look out for others. Some might even suggest to be well educated. If you go to a Hindu website for instance, you will find things to believe and a process of joining, and it is all what YOU do. A self-help mentality likes to think we can do things to become good but when it comes to becoming a Christian you see it is what God has done that qualifies us.
The problems overcome: The biggest problem that we face is that of our Sin and our guilt. We couldn’t break free from either because we were conscious like Paul that, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom 7:15) Then when we fail we feel bad, and feeling bad (like Adam and Eve Gen 3:8) we hide from God. Fear is no basis for a loving relationship. So the Godhead saw that we were helpless and so they planned and sent Jesus to die in our place to take our guilt and shame, to take the punishment due to us. THIS and this alone is what qualifies us to become children of God. We aren’t automatically but as we find ourselves convicted by the Spirit (and it may be conviction of guilt, of failure, of inadequacy, of lack of love – a whole raft of possibilities) we surrender and say, “I can’t do it. Please forgive me,” and because of what Jesus has done, the Father transfers all our guilt to him on the Cross, and then welcomes us as those who are open to receive His forgiveness and cleansing, His adoption and empowering.
All because of the Cross: But everything we do and everything that happens to us to bring about what the Bible calls ‘new birth’ or ‘being born again’ (Jn 3:3), or ‘converted’ (Acts 15:3, Rom 16:15, 1 Cor 16:15, 1 Tim 3:6), everything that takes place to bring us into sonship, children of God (Jn 1:12,13) takes place because first of all Jesus has ‘passed our exams for us’ or ‘taken our conviction and punishment’ so that whoever will come to him and receive what he has done for them, will find that they have ‘passed the exam’ or ‘been pronounced not-guilty’ because of Jesus’ actions on the Cross. HE has qualified us and it was all planned by the Godhead before the foundation of the world. You cannot add to it; you can only receive it and enjoy it, and everything else follows. How wonderful!