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Colossians

Supremacy

Colossians  1:15-29

Paul now brings out some of the strongest statements concerning the supremacy of Christ over all things.

The Holy Bible, New International Version

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and 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.

Of computers and theology

Most of you have a personal computer. On the screen you will see many little objects with a small arrow at the bottom. These little objects have a number of advantages:

  • The picture formed by this object is designed to remind you of the program it represents. You recognize items by the shape and form given.
  • If you double click on it, you don’t get the object; you get the program it represents.
  • It’s more convenient that the actual program – for you can have these little objects anywhere in your system. You can have many of them, all representing the same program.
  • If you went to the actual program, you usually need to know quite a bit more about computers to get it to work. This is definitely simpler.

These little objects are known as “icons.” The word is taken from the Greek. In the passage above, it is translated as “image.” Christ is the “icon” of God; he reminds you of the Father; if you pray to him, you pray to the Father. He is much easier to understand and you can get to him anywhere.

Firstborn

Who was the second man on the moon?[1]

Everyone remembers the one who did it first. It is made clear that Christ is first in every way that counts. To begin with, because he is God, he precedes all the universe.

  • He precedes, indeed he created, all things in heaven and earth, i.e., all things either spiritual or related to our universe of matter and energy.
  • He precedes, indeed he created, all things visible and invisible (just in case you missed the last point.)
  • He is the source authority; all other authorities come from him. (“All authority in heaven and on earth”[2]

One of the greatest things said of him here is this: he is the glue of the universe. There are some ultimate questions which find their answer here – such things as “why do the laws of physics work today as they did yesterday?” The answer, simply, “Because He Is.”

He is also head of the church. We must remember that the word “church”, in this context, refers to all Christians of all times in all places. Fittingly, he is the one who began the church; it is his body on earth.

He is the first born from the dead. What does that mean? The Greek word for “firstborn” is composed of two other words. Proto, from which we our word “prototype,” is the first. The second is tokos, which really means to bear (as in fruit), to produce or to give. Remember all those verses in the Old Testament about “first fruit?” Now you know why it’s so important; Christ is the first fruit of the resurrection to come.

The Great Reconciliation

The Holy Bible, New International Version

21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of£ your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Because of all that, there is a magnificent change in our relationship to God.

  • In the past. We were God’s enemies. There are no fence sitters with God. Paul makes it clear how this works. We are enemies in our minds, because of the evil works we did. This is easy to understand and hard to get rid of. We do something evil; the memory of this conflicts with our picture of ourselves as “basically good people.” When the Spirit convicts us of sin, we say, “Hmmmmm – must be something wrong with God, because there’s nothing wrong with me.”
  • In the present. Now, however, the price of our sins has been paid at the Cross. We are reconciled. So when God looks at us, he sees Christ – the sinless one. As such, we are free from accusation; Satan has nothing to say about us.
  • In the future. We stay in the church, receiving its promises, if we continue in the faith. The idea that you were good once upon a time does not cut it. You must remain firm in the hope. What hope? The hope of the resurrection of the dead.

And while you are waiting in that hope, there is work to be done.

The Work of the Saints

Rejoice

The command to rejoice is given frequently in Scripture. It seems that being a Christian is intended to be a joyful thing. Just how different this is from all that is reasonable can be seen here:

The Holy Bible, New International Version

 

24Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

 

The real difficulty is this: rejoicing is often connected with suffering. We rejoice in our salvation and in the resurrection to come – which were purchased by the suffering of Christ on the Cross.

  • Paul rejoices in what was suffered for the Colossians. Have you ever considered that someone else’s suffering is a cause for your rejoicing (other than at athletic events?) Yet it is so; suffering is the marker of the world’s hatred for Christ. Where the Spirit is strong in us, there will be the suffering.
  • We rejoice in our own suffering – because (like the Apostles) it means that we are found worthy. Satan needs no assault on the comfortable; he already has taken that fortification.
  • The one central reason we rejoice in suffering is that our Lord suffered. When we suffer for the cause of Christ, we are imitating what he did. We are becoming more like him.

Service

The reason the world objects to us, and provides much of our suffering, is simply this: we are actively working for the kingdom of God. If we are armchair Christians, content to be “tolerant” of anything, we will not suffer. But we also will not serve. What should we be doing?

  • We should present the Word of God to the world. That is the primary mission of the church, to spread the Gospel.
  • We are to do this with all wisdom. This is not something to be neglected; if you lack wisdom, ask. Don’t go out there half-prepared.
  • We are to do this with his energy. We must draw our strength from him in times of prayer, study and meditation – and then use that strength for his kingdom.

Mystery

Paul uses a word here which seems out of place: “mystery.” We think of a mystery as being an intellectual puzzle to be solved; a whodunit? But the original meaning is that of something that was hidden. (Those who read Agatha Christie will certainly understand that sense of the word). For thousands of years the mystery of Christ was hidden from all, even the greatest of thinkers. As a side note, this may explain the multitude of explanations of Revelation – the matter has not been revealed to us (entirely) as of yet.

What is this mystery, hidden so long and now revealed? Two phrases tell it all:

  • Christ in you. We have the Holy Spirit within us; the Spirit of Christ. Only rarely did the Spirit come upon anyone in the Old Testament; today, all true Christians have that Spirit. It is with His energy and power that we struggle for the kingdom today.
  • The hope of glory. It is not just for strength and wisdom we have the Spirit. He is also our guarantee of the resurrection to come – our hope of glory. By that same Spirit God raised Christ from the dead. He is within us, and at the time appointed by God He will raise us too.

 


[1] Buzz Aldrin.

[2] Matthew 28:18

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