Thursday, December 15, 2005

Colossians 1:14-23

Read it here.

In the last section, up to verse 14, Paul argued that our greatest hope, our only hope, is in the God, and the gospel. The the gospel gives us a hope for everyhing. This point was argued by Paul so strongly and quickly (at the start of the letter) because of the teaching that was going on in Colossae at the time. The 'deceptive philosophy' that tired to persuade the Colossians to out their trust and hope in things of the world rather than in Christ. But why? Why does Paul argue so strongly that our only hope is in Christ, and in His power, and the gospel? Well, in verse 15 Paul starts to show us what God is like, why we should have our hope in Him alone. Jesus (His beloved son, v13) is described as the image of the invisible God. Not physically obviously, but on the inside, Jesus is the image of God, His exact reflection. God is as Jesus does because Jesus is God. God, the God we are to hope alone in is therefore trustworthy, full of love and compassion, powerful, soveriegn, real, relational and alive. This is what God is like, this is where the Colossians should put their hope, not in the things of this world. Jesus is also described firstborn of all creation, the first and most important, God's heir.
Verse 16 tells us that all things under heaven and earth were created by means of Him, and for Him. Jesus is a creator God. He was there with the father at the beginning, and through Him all tings were made. There's someone special to put your hope in. No matter how clever the arguments of the world are, they can never, with any validity claim to have existed before the world did. Christ can. All thngs (which Paul repeats) were made through Him and for Him. All things were made for Jesus. You and me, we were created for Jesus, to live for Him, to have fellowship with Him, to hope and rest on Him. For Him. So when we pray and worship, we're doing what we were created to do, because Christ's greatest gift in dieing on the cross was Himself, that we may now have a relationship with Him. The relationship we were created for. This is good news! So this is our God and our hope, the creator God, who created it all. Not only did He create everything but now He 'holds it together'. The picture Paul paints becomes more powerful still. Everything in creation is held together by Christ, not 'deceptive philosophy' but Christ. Think about that, from the smallest photosynthesis to the largest star, from the chemical reactions needed to create a light mist to our DNA, all of it is held together in Christ. Thats some power. This, remember, the same Christ who died that we might have a relationship with Him...
In addition to this, verse 18 tells us that Christ is the 'head of the body, the church' an image that i love. He is the head of what we do, we, the church, the body of believers, can't do anything without Him. Imagine a body without a head, no thought, no vision, no knowledge or leadership. This is us without Christ. The next in Paul's line of statements about Jesus (he is, he is, he is) tells us that He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. The most important to rise from the dead (obviously). He is the beginning. Jesus Christ, God, where it all starts and ends. Why is He these things, why is He the firstborn from the dead. So that He might look glorious in all things in creation. So that He might look as glorious as He is. So that none of the lies that Colossians came up against, so that none of the lies we come up against would look like anything in comparison to this...this Jesus who has had victory over the dead, firstborn from the dead. Amazing. How will any other thought, or philosophy or religion stand against that? And then more, as Paul keeps pilling on the reasons why Jesus is better than the world, why hoping in anything other than Jesus is a waste of time. In Jesus the fullness of God was pleased to dwell...He wanted to be there, He wasn't forced or persuaded, he was pleased to dwell there. The fulness of God in a man. In Jesus. Through Jesus, the next point tells us, as we reach Paul's climax, God 'reconciled to Himself all things...making peace by the blood of His cross'. Peace with who? Peace with you who were once doing hostile deeds and of an evil mind. Jesus, the fulness of God dwelling within Him, reconciled to Himself you and me, by the blood of His cross. I love the way the bible calls it His cross. He owns it, He chose it, He designed it as the way He would give Himself to us. It wasn't a mistake or a plan B. So why did Christ die on a cross? So that we might have peace with God, no longer at odds with Him, no longer in rebellion against Him, but simply with Him.
Christ did this so that we might be holy, blameless and above reproach in front of Him. Christ did this, the point made again, so that we might be ok with Him, so that by this action, by His intervention He would be glorified, because it points to our reliance on Christ, and on Him being the source of our joy. So, He died to reconcile all things to Himself, so that we might be holy and blameless before Him, so that we might enjoy relations with Him so that He might be glorified. I think!
But what about the next part, which talks about this being conditional on 'continue(ing) in the faith, stable and steadfast', which on the face of it causes a problem for someone with a 'once saved always saved theology' like myself, but then, do i let my theology influence the bible, or the bible my theology? This is a verse that could easily lead us to horrible, cross denying legalism. Lets look at the context. The Colossians were being challenged, asked to put their hope in something else, something of the world, to turn away from the 'hope of the gospel that they heard', much like we are every day. Paul's encouragement to them is to place their hope solely in the gospel and in Christ, for the reasons mentioned, so that they may be 'above reproach before Him'. This is our encouragement and our challenge, not to find out if we can cease 'to continue in the faith', but to stay 'stable and steadfast in the gospel which you heard'. I think thats great stuff. Continue in the gospel and you will be presented holy and blameless and above reproach beofre Him. Don't owrroy about deceptive philosophys of Colossae, just continue in the gospel and put your faith and hope in Christ.

Continue in the gospel, and put your hope and faith in Christ.

No comments: