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.Last night, at Jr. High Youth Group, we talked about these verses. We're going through the book of Colossians the "Calvary Chapel way," verse by verse. In the high school, we're going to be using N.T. Wright's new study guide, sectioning out into small groups and answering questions, but for the jr. highers, I'm pretty much just teaching the way I normally do.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[f] 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. (Colossians 1:15-23)
The second section of chapter 1 is all about Christ. As I taught it last night, the church in Colosse seems to be experiencing something new. Things like faith, hope, and love are springing up among them (see verses 4-8), this gospel, this good news is changing them but they don't quite even understand it. I'm sure they get what it means for their future and for their community but they're not quite sure what kinds of seeds can make such wonderful fruit. Well, since Paul's prayer is that they'll have understanding, he gives them a clue as to what this seed is. Naturally, he starts talking about Jesus.
Jesus is, as one of our jr. highers put it (and I loved it!), "God on the ground." He's God in reality--the reality of ground, dirt, sweat, and blood--He's God with us; "the image" that is, something visible and tangible, "of the invisible (as in, something you can't see) God." Jesus is like God, but more importantly, God is like Jesus.
Jesus is "the firstborn over all creation." Now this isn't just a commentary on the origins of the universe or about some date on a time-line. This means that Jesus, this man from Nazareth is not separate from creation but part of it, yet somehow, as the firstborn thereof, Jesus is a glimpse of what creation really looks like. Jesus is at the heart of reality and tapping into Jesus--having a relationship with and a faith in Jesus--is tapping into the creativity of God, a creativity which brings order from chaos.
This creativity is perhaps most profoundly displayed in resurrection, "he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy." resurrection is creative because it defies all the "normal" patterns of life and yet it brings forth the only life that is truly life. And this resurrection, this creativity, comes through reconciliation and sacrifice--through "making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Now, when you make peace with blood, it's not the kind of peace that resides only in some distant reality, in some "spiritual realm." This kind of peace, the peace of reconciliation through the blood of self-sacrifice, is a very real flesh and blood kind of peace. Jesus' reconciliation in a historical and physical one. When we tap into Jesus we're tapping into the reconciliation of all things, the reason good things come from the gospel is because the firstborn of all creation is one one who is renewing all creation--even the "physical" one.
It is this Jesus that is making all good things. He is the origin and the firstborn of faith, hope, and love. To tap into this Jesus, to follow this Jesus, to begin to love this Jesus is moving to the rhythm of God's creativity and it is tapping into the very heart of existence. Of course! If this is the seed, no wonder we're experiencing such good fruit.
If we want to know who Jesus is perhaps our first stop after the gospels themselves should be Colossians 1.