And Another

I remember once seeing a church sign that had as its tagline: “that in all things Christ might have preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).

Let’s give that one a C for marketing but an A+ for theology.

Colossians 1:15-20 is one of my favorite carried away passages from Paul’s work:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For 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. 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.

This is the gospel in a paragraph:

* The divinity of Christ (1:15 and 1:19)as the foundation of all other thinking;
* The central role of Christ in creation (1:16),echoing the affirmation of John 1:1-14.
* The sovereignty of Christ over his creation, including over all pretenders to his throne (1:17).
* The tender care Jesus gives to his creation and to his people — “in him all things hold together.”
* The role of the cross in reconciling people to himself (1:20). Some have suggested that with the phrase “reconcil[ing] to himself all things” Paul is arguing for a universal salvation that includes creation itself. While I’m persuaded by the imagery of an ultimate, expansive restoration of people and things, nevertheless the bible is simply too full of warnings against coming judgment and references to the reality of hell to give universalism serious consideration.

This week’s worth of posting had its genesis in the study of another of Paul’s carried away moments from Colossians. This one is in 3:11; ironically, I was preparing for a message based on 3:12 — “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” — when I recognized that 3:12 makes no sense apart from 3:11:

Here (the church) there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave for free, but Christ is all and is in all.

Christ is all and is in all.

I pray my spirit and my writing and even my preaching gets carred away to those kinds of heights.