15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And 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. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 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 1:15-20 NIV)
The Apostle Paul gets right to the heart of his message to the Colossian church in today’s passage – the person of Jesus Christ.
Let’s take a quick look at Paul’s letter so far:
- Paul’s introduction and greeting (vv. 1-2)
- Paul’s thankfulness for all the good he had heard about the Colossian church (vv. 3-8)
- Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church (vv. 9-14)
As we look into today’s passage, we must ask ourselves why Paul decided to speak about Jesus. Was Jesus the next nice thing to talk about? Or was Jesus something that Paul, out of obligation, always talked about? Or was there a deeper reason for Paul’s focus on Jesus?
Let’s look briefly at the context in which Paul wrote this letter to the Colossian church. Like many churches, as people came to Christ, they brought some of their old baggage and beliefs with them. The Colossian church was no different. The truth of the Gospel became mixed with former beliefs and practices that diluted the Gospel and began leading them away from Christ.
So what was the heresy that had crept into the Colossian church? The belief was that God is high and holy and righteous and cannot allow sin in His presence. So far, so good, right? Here’s where the heresy comes in. Human logic (there’s our first clue) reasoned that because God is spirit only and so holy, He could not possibly participate directly in a sinful material world. Therefore (again, based on human logic), God had set up a series of partially spiritual / partially material beings to bridge the gap between God (living in a spiritual world) and mankind (living in a material world). Based on this logic, some were teaching that a follower of God needed to worship the entire “food chain” of beings between themselves and God.
This belief system allowed these heretical teachers to insert themselves into the “food chain” of beings (on the lower end, of course) and proclaim special knowledge about God, His Word, their ability to provide spiritual guidance, etc. Now with such “enlightened” status, these teachers gained a foothold in the church and a following of many, leading them away from Christ.
So what did Paul write about? The supremacy of Christ:
- as God (v. 15)
- over creation (vv. 15-17)
- over the church (v. 18)
- as God’s first and only plan for redemption and reconciliation of humans (vv. 19-20)
Paul’s point is clear: God is God and needs nothing else and no one else besides Christ to bridge the gap between Himself and humans.
May we take inventory of our lives and set aside anything or anyone that comes between our direct relationship with Christ. Restated another way, let us keep our relationship with Christ first and foremost and let everything and everyone else take second place.