For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.Colossians 1:19-20 NIV
The verses immediately preceding this passage are a song that exalts the Son as over all things and the creator of all things. And the song concludes here by saying that in the Son, all the fullness of God dwells. Jesus was not just a good teacher or a person who was especially close to God. He was God in human form.
And it is through Christ, and what he did on the cross, that God is reconciling all things to himself. There is a depth to this passage that I believe we all too often pass over. We understand that the cross is an act of God’s grace. And that through faith in the shed blood of Christ, we are reconciled to God (Rom. 3:21-25). But we are not all that is reconciled to God through the cross.
Reconciling All Things
At the beginning of this song it is said that ‘all things’ were created in Christ. Things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible (Col. 1:16). And now it says that through Christ, God is reconciling ‘all things’ to himself. In some way, Christ’s atoning death on the cross has application to all of the creation. Not just to humans.
It is important to recognize that this passage is not teaching universalism, that all of creation, including all people, will be saved. There is, at least for us humans, a requirement that I respond in faith in order to experience this reconciliation.
But through our reconciliation to God, the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glory of the children of God (Rom. 8:19-22). And, it appears, that there will be some type of reconciliation in the spiritual realm as well since it is included in the ‘all things’ created through Christ. But, in similar fashion to the human realm, this reconciliation is not universal (2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 1:6).
There is so much I do not understand about Christ’s work on the cross. The extent of the atonement is beyond my grasp. But I am so thankful that it included me. That God has reconciled me to himself and that, through the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, I can have peace with God.