Colossians is full of information that should be used to shape our view of Christ. Paul first starts his letter, as he starts most of his letters, with thanksgiving and prayer. He is thankful for the faith that the church in Colossae has demonstrated. They truly understand God’s grace. When I read openings like this from Paul I have to stop and ask myself, “Does this describe me? Does this describe the congregation I am part of?” If it doesn’t, what needs to change? Who is my “Epaphras” that has taught me and is continuing to teach me about God’s grace? These are important people to recognize in your life.
What does Colossians 1 tell us about Christ?
– The Son is the image of the invisible God
In order to know God, you must look at Christ. Christ, being the image of God, embodies the presence of God in this world. If we really want to know God, we must know Christ. Christ is Word God spoke into this world and for us to know who God is, we need to learn to speak the Word of God to each other and to those around us.
– The firstborn over all creation
This verse has caused some people to draw the conclusion that Jesus is a created being. If Jesus was created, then is he fully God or just His son who possesses the essence of God. There is a difference there that causes problems for how we view God the Father and God the Son. I don’t intend to fully go into these debates but simply would like to point out that, as created beings, it is impossible for us to fully grasp who God is and how God functions. Therefore, we speak of God (Father, Son, Spirit) in ways that we can understand and we need to be careful in how far we take metaphors.
I take this to be more metaphor than literal in the same way that when Paul in Galatians 3 says that we are all Sons of God he is not saying that women are to become men. Paul is saying that in being a “Son of God” you are now in position to receive inheritance because it is the son who receives the inheritance in the family. Christ being the “firstborn over all creation” is a position of authority that Christ has in his relationship to the rest of creation. I would hesitate to make the claim that Christ has been created.
– All things were created in him, through him, and for him. He is before all things and holds all things together
All things being created in, through, and for Christ is the reality of God’s intention to be part of His own creation, to walk and talk with us as He did in the Garden. God is present in all things because it is Christ who makes everything happen. God did not crank up His creation and sit back to see how it would unfold (which was the view of many of our founding fathers and of that timeframe). All things have their being in Christ and cannot exist otherwise. God continues to interact with His creation.
– He is the head of the body, the church.
Not only does God interact with His creation but Christ is also part of the Church. I, we, often think of the Church as the people who follow Christ and worship Him. Christ being the head of the Church is a reminder that, while we do follow Christ’s example, as we are part of the Church we are actually one with Christ. To me, this changes the mindset of our function. We are to join together for worship but we are also called to embody the presence of God in this world because we are one with Christ.
– He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead
Christ not only is from the beginning but is also the beginning of the New Creation, the firstborn from among the dead. Christ died and was resurrected. He brought the New Creation and we now live between two realities. We still live amongst the Old Creation but in the reality of the New Creation because we are one in Christ.
– All things are reconciled to God through him, his blood on the cross
I have used to imagery before that Christ stands between God and us pulling us toward one another, reconciling us together. I’ve changed my thinking on this. It is important to realize that God needs no reconciliation. It is this broken creation that needs to be reconciled and we find that reconciliation in Christ. He came down to where we are so that we can be glorified and raised up to where God is.
When we look at the Cross of Christ, we are reminded of these things. We are confronted with the reality of where we are without Christ and the reality of where he brings us to be. “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.”