"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior." Col. 1:21
Mindsets can be deadly, determining if we flourish or fail regardless of our circumstances. Paul reminded the Colossians that the only separation they ever experienced between themselves and God was all in their heads. Alienation from God is the result of faulty thinking.
In his book, Saint in the Hands of a Happy God, author Jeff Turner discusses the debilitating effect fear has on our thought processes. "Fight or Flight Syndrome" is a direct response to scary situations. Pertaining to one's concept of God, those who are afraid of Him respond in one of two ways; either they rebel against the God they perceive Him to be (fight), or they run from Him (flight).
God in the Old Testament gets a bad rap as an angry, capricious deity despite comments such as:
"I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them...I will rejoice in doing them good" Jer. 32: 40-41 (emphasis mine).
God made this promise to
personally, but due to their erroneous thinking they failed to believe and
receive His words. Israel
repeatedly ran away from or rebelled against God, all out of fear. Still, He never
abandoned them to their distorted understanding of His character and
personality. He continually pursued a relationship with them. He does the same
for all of us.
Jesus came and demonstrated the true nature of God the Father. Because he contradicted their well entrenched beliefs, the Jews couldn't accept Him. It was alright when Jesus did things for His fellow Israelites, the good ones at least. When he lavished that same love on sinners, and even worse heathens, they drew the line. Their God wouldn't possibly act this way. He did, however, and still does.
In one respect we're a tiny step ahead of our Jewish brethren. They did and still do very little outreach to invite Gentiles into a relationship with God. Christians as a whole are more apt to share their faith. Sometimes our approach, however, only feeds the fear of God those who don't know Him personally already have. This causes them to either push back harder, or run even further away.
God's never been separated from man. Yes I said never. Sin does not separate man from God. If it could, God would never have been looking to fellowship with Adam in the garden after the fall. God wasn't hiding, Adam was. Sin was dealt with before the foundation of the earth before mankind was ever created. Christ's crucifixion was the temporal demonstration of the Lamb's sacrifice already done in eternity.
God solved the sin problem before it existed. Paul reminds us that the only way we are enemies of God is through sin which makes us feel separated from Him. It is, however, all in our minds. God will work to bring correction to our misconceptions of who He is and our relationship with Him, but He won't force us to think differently.
How about you? Is the news that any perceived separation you may be feeling from God is just wrong thinking and not reality? This was true before salvation and will always be that way going forward. How do you think those who are afraid of God might respond when they're told that any notions of enmity with God they're experiencing are just that...notions? Isn't that the Good News we need to tell them?