"But Now" (1:22)
Thank God that there is something "after" the "before"! Before Jesus there was only alienation, hostility, and evil deeds (v. 21). Not a very flattering picture! But now . . . (v. 22a). Oh, my. But now! Were ever more glorious words spoken to otherwise hopeless and helpless sinners? But now!
Were it not for the divine and gracious "But now" we would be forever mired and entrenched in the "Always" of sin and death and darkness. There would be no purpose in speaking of a "Before," because there would be no hope of an "After."
The contrast evoked by the transitional words "but now" with which v. 22 begins is lost in most English translations. There are several places in the NT where we encounter these or similar words. Often following the dire description of humanity in sin are the words, "But God" (cf. Eph. 2:4). In Ephesians 2:11-12 Paul paints a rather ugly and disheartening portrait of the plight of Gentiles before the coming of Jesus. "But now" (v. 13a), "in Christ Jesus," he happily shouts, we have been drawn near and our former alienation has given way to friendship and intimacy and forgiveness.
The apostle uses the same terminology in Colossians 1:22 to tell us yet again that "now", because of God's gracious activity in removing the hostility that alienated us from his presence, we can stand confident in his presence.
"Lord, I was blind; I could not see,
In Thy marred visage any grace;
BUT NOW the beauty of Thy face,
In radiant vision dawns on me.
Lord, I was deaf; I could not hear,
The thrilling music of Thy voice;
BUT NOW I hear Thee and rejoice,
And all Thine uttered words are dear.
Lord, I was dumb; I could not speak,
The grace and glory of Thy name;
BUT NOW, as touched with living flame,
My lips Thine eager praises wake.
Lord, I was dead; I could not stir,
My lifeless soul to come to Thee;
BUT NOW, since Thou hast quickened me,
I rise from sin's dark sepulcher.
Lord, Thou hast made the blind to see,
The deaf to hear, the dumb to speak,
The dead to live; and lo, I break,
The chains of my captivity." (Matson)
Dead! Blind! Dumb! Alienated! Hostile! BUT NOW!
Well did John Newton say it in that famous hymn:
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost BUT NOW I'm found,
was blind, BUT NOW I see!"
These are words that embody and express an indescribably encouraging and hopeful truth.
When your conscience is pricked by the memory of failure and sin, a simple cry of "BUT NOW" will bring healing and hope.
When the enemy assaults your soul with reminders of how unworthy you were, a simple cry of "Yes, BUT NOW I've been made worthy in Christ" will suffice.
When he insinuates that no one with a history so filled with failure, ingratitude, and selfishness could possibly be a Christian, rebuff him with a hearty and defiant, "BUT NOW I have a clean slate and new life and joy and the promise of God's abiding presence"!
Fight the paralyzing power of past transgressions and the crippling fear of what may lie ahead by strengthening your soul with the inspired promise that "NOW", because of Christ and in Christ, you are reconciled and redeemed.
Trusting in the "But now" of sovereign grace,